Even with a fortnight until the Cup finals, both of the host Super Rugby finalists teams have been found for the respective New Zealand and Australian competitions.
With a win for the Crusaders, they secure yet another home final; including two Super Rugby Aotearoa series, and the last two Super Rugby finals.
The Queensland Reds will host the Super Rugby Australia tournament yet, they will stumble into that match in Brisbane on May 8, sporting a loss to the Western Force. A surprise result that just 6% of punters had foreseen. Not the way you want to enjoy your qualifying finalists week off but, it might be the wake up call the Brad Thorn coached side needed.
Contrasting form had seen the unbeaten Reds looking to travel into Perth and escape with an unbroken record in 2021. They had looked to be the most dominant team in Australia – and some have pointed to a somewhat ‘banana skin outcome’ that sees many leading sides slip up when they are already assured Super Rugby finalists. Their only conciliation though will be that they will play on home soil, and still be in a superior position than their opponents.
Yet it gives the Force a huge boost, as they now contend for the Super Rugby AU preliminary final match against the Brumbies. An unqualified successful return to the competition, especially when they were culled from the game and left for several seasons until the Coronavirus isolation handed them a lifeline.
Super Rugby AU | Force v Reds – Rd 10 Highlights
It was a historic night in Perth for the @westernforce, as the club qualified for its maiden Super Rugby finals campaign with an upset win over the Queensland @Reds_Rugby.#SuperRugby #SuperRugbyAU #FORvRED pic.twitter.com/qYgn4BW5lk
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) April 23, 2021
Queensland Reds to host Super Rugby AU final after upset loss in Perth
Head coach Brad Thorn said: “Well done to the Force. They hung in there and they got the result that they needed at the end. From our point of view, it was pretty disappointing not to get that win at the end there but credit to the Force and what they did.
“For us, we had our opportunities, but we didn’t get the result we wanted. It’s disappointing, but it’s on to what’s in front of us now.”
That is, watching their two potential opponents look to lay waste against the other. Clearly, the advantage for the Reds is that the victorious team will arrive in Brisbane sporting fresh wounds. The visiting Super Rugby finalists will not be as fresh as the hosts, so Thorn and the Queensland franchise can rebuild this week and examine their oppositions game. Picking up the pieces of their only defeat this season, while aiming to end 2021 on a high.
And the Reds have one true weapon that they can load-up for the Cup final. That is the ‘Tongan Thor’. Reds prop Taniela Tupou has now racked up 31 career tries in Super Rugby. Adding to that list in emphatic style on Friday night, he busted tackles and was again devastating in both loose and set play.
Props, eh. pic.twitter.com/ZerHIpUOcr
— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) April 23, 2021
Whichever team does become visiting Australian Super Rugby finalists, they will need to be ready to stop the big forward, as much as contend with a rested and waiting Queensland Reds.
Crusaders seal Super Rugby finalists place with big win over Blues
In New Zealand, the hosts avoided any further blemishes on their favouritism, after two losses in the last month of Super Rugby NZ. Knocking back yet another limp effort from the promising Blues, it became all too easy for Scott Robertson’s group, as the visitors could not fulfill all their opportunities.
When you have the capacity of Will Jordan behind a side occupied by David Havili, Codie Taylor, and a unified team of champions. The perfect outcome of a bonus point, four try win has ensured the home side enters the Bye in supreme confidence.
💥 Will Jordan hitting Christian Cullen levels!
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) April 26, 2021
Crusaders 29 – Tries: Will Jordan (2), Sevu Reece, Codie Taylor; Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (3); Penalty: Mo’unga
Blues 6 – Pens: Otere Black (2)
A good win although, lessons from the short term past might need to be heeded. Winning captain Scott Barrett hinted that his side would not repeat a similar result, when they prepared with the next week at home. “If we look back at our last Bye week, we still maybe had a palm tree over our head.
“We rocked into that Highlanders week, and got shown up on our home pitch. By no means, we’re not gonna be putting our feet up”. [The Crusaders were defeated 12-33 by the Highlanders, in Round Six].
That reaction shows that the attitude teams carry into penultimate games, and especially matches after big rest weeks, has to be just as intensive as if they had completed a four-to-six week schedule. The evidence showed that over the years, with the Crusaders guilty of the same mistake that the Reds had, in previous years.
And with the contrasting results, the emphasis by both sides will be different yet, very similar. Laying in preparation, researching their likely opponents, while waiting to face the respective NZ/AU opposition team’s in Cup finals matches.
🐴//✊🏽 This is it Canberra, we need you! Do or die at @giostadium this Saturday night.
— Plus500 Brumbies (@BrumbiesRugby) April 25, 2021
Both of the host Super Rugby finalists have been found to date for the NZ/Aus competitions. Their opponents will be known by Saturday week. Both finals games have been scheduled for Saturday, May 8.
One of the finalists needs a slight repair, while the other could be returning to top gear at the right point in their season.
SUPER RUGBY AUSTRALIA Grand Final: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA Cup final: Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
At the conclusion of each competition, the anticipated Super Rugby Trans-Tasman series begins May 14, with the series final to be played on June 19 (venue TBC).
🇦🇺🇳🇿 Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby are delighted to announce a Trans-Tasman crossover competition in 2021, to follow their respective domestic Super Rugby tournaments.
— Rugby Australia (@RugbyAU) November 13, 2020
Only a brief contest, it still offers that trans-Tasman play that will benefit both nations International sides preparations before home Test series in June/July.
Australia is set to host France*, and New Zealand will play Fiji and Italy*.
(Both France and Italy will both need to follow strict quarantine timelines, so dates are still to be confirmed).
“Main photo credit”
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