The High Five: Super Rugby Round 8

Diggercane Roar Guru

By Diggercane, Diggercane is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    Round 8 of Super Rugby contained plenty of highlights, though this week could perhaps be remembered as the round of milestones.

    Several players celebrated significant personal achievements this round.

    There was Ruan Dreyer playing his 50th Super match for the lions, Laurie Weeks bringing up his 100th, the evergreen George Smith bringing up 150 turning out for the Reds on the weekend while Wyatt Crockett celebrated his 176th appearance for the Crusaders.

    Crockett became the highest capped player in Super Rugby history and is sure to add more to his tally before he calls it a day.

    The Lions have managed to secure their first ever win at Newlands, a significant achievement for their franchise.

    What’s more, all the above mentioned players managed to achieve their milestones with wins for their respective sides to boot, capping off what will be memorable moments in their careers.

    Here are the High Five from Round 8 of Super Rugby.

    And then there was one
    The Crusaders have continued on their winning ways on Good Friday, comprehensively beating the Sunwolves in Christchurch by 50 points to 3 with Kieran Read returning to the fold and looking in good touch despite his lay off.

    As results would have it over the balance of the weekend, the Crusaders are now the only unbeaten side left within Super Rugby and they look unlikely to relinquish this status, as the side continues to go from strength to strength.

    They are welcoming back a few of their more experienced crew in Read and Richie Mo’ounga, it would not surprise to see their streak continue on for a wee bit longer yet.

    Barrett magic gets the Canes home
    While we all know it’s a team sport, there can be no question that Beauden Barrett’s influence was a key factor to the Hurricanes managing to squeak past the Blues in a thriller at Eden Park.

    His moments of individual brilliance sparked several of the Hurricanes’ try-scoring efforts and ultimately dug his side out of a hole with what is becoming a bit of a signature โ€˜Barrett chip and chase’.

    This lead to the Hurricanes gaining field position and the final try of the match, regaining and holding onto the lead after the Blues threatened to steal it from the windy franchise.

    As for the Blues, chalking up their fifth loss of the season now means the Auckland based side are well and truly up against it in looking to qualify for the finals. Based on last season, all four of the Kiwi qualifiers only suffered four losses for the entire round robin in 2016 so unfortunately; the playoffs yet again seem a bridge too far for the Blues.

    Ngani Laumape Wes Goosen Hurricanes Super Rugby Union 2017

    The Rebel Yell
    While Billy Idol was not present at AAMI Park, at least to my knowledge, the Rebels yelled plenty as they caused one of the big upsets, tipping over the Brumbies to secure a gutsy victory.

    Considering the well documented issues surrounding the club and the uncertainty of their future, along with their 2017 form to date, it seemed it would be a straight forward night for the Brumbies. However the Rebels had other ideas, showing tremendous character to not only win, but survive three yellow cards during the match as well. While it would not be unfair to suggest the Brumbies certainly did little to help themselves, one has to take their hats off to the Rebels for the fight they showed, and will hopefully continue to display in spite of the decisions that are yet to be made.

    They certainly had their luck though as I am quite unsure how Lopeti Timani avoided a red card for his attempted knee to the head of Rory Arnold, that didn’t quite connect, well only softly, as the ref indicated. Has me stumped, such actions have no place on the rugby field and I am staggered only a yellow was issued.

    The Lions flex their muscles in South Africa
    The match promised plenty and it delivered on its promise as the Stormers hosted the Lions in a South African derby match featuring the two best form sides in the republic with the Lions eventually managing to get over the top of the rivals, and securing a bonus point to boot, by 29 points to 16.

    It was fast, brutal and skilful as both sides went hammer and tong at each other and while we have come to expect plenty of attacking endeavour from the Lions, this win was based on their staunch defence, repelling wave after wave of Stormers attack, the first 20 minutes of the second half an astonishing display of defence and resilience and certainly earmarking the Lions as a strongest title contender from South Africa.

    The Jaguares tank it
    Many have asked where the Jaguares sit this season, wondering if there undoubted talent would finally manifest itself onto the field and with a reasonably strong start to the season, the Jaguares had the opportunity to show their mettle and win away from home, facing an out of sorts Bulls side in Pretoria and creating a few waves within their conference.

    Facundo Isa Jaguares Super Rugby 2016

    Unfortunately for the Jaguares, it was possibly their worst performance of the season, permeated with errors and struggled all match for cohesion, as the Bulls ran away with a reasonably comfortable and much needed victory by 26 to 13 at Loftus.

    It would seem that learning to win away from home is still an issue for the Jaguares and an inaugural playoff appearance would seem a bridge too far this season.

    So that wraps up some thoughts on this milestone Round of Super Rugby with my five major talking points this week and I would like to cap it off with a final thought, considering this is Easter and all, could the tournament schedule not have made a better effort on spreading a few more games across the weekend? Easter Sunday afternoon footy anyone? What about an Easter Monday game? I cannot help but feel Super Rugby is missing a trick here on this long weekend.

    Until next week then, and Happy Easter!

    A Rotundity and happy ex hooker who just loves Rugby really, oh and my kids and Kendra of course who lets me watch as much Rugby as I want, mostly. Follow Digby Ross on Twitter @Diggercane.

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    The Crowd Says (95)

    • April 16th 2017 @ 8:10am
      taylorman said | April 16th 2017 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      Yes at least Blues are putting themselves in winning positions nearly every match so that’s a good sign, some resemblance of consistency is starting to come through, even though it’s taking a deacade to get to that point.

      • April 16th 2017 @ 8:20am
        Diggercane said | April 16th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

        It is there, nab a first five who can lead you to the promised land, as RT would say.

        • April 16th 2017 @ 2:07pm
          Rugby Tragic said | April 16th 2017 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

          That’s all that is needed, but it would also help to have decent on field leadership. Parsons appears to be a nice guy but a leader? …. The jury is hung on that ..

          • April 16th 2017 @ 2:38pm
            cuw said | April 16th 2017 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

            can Naanai play or all blacks? he sure has the tricks to be a cover on the left wing ….

            they shud make GUS Pulu skipper. but then he will have to play 80+ , so ….

            sign up Gatland for next season ; given the names who blues have used, he cant be worse ๐Ÿ™‚

            • April 16th 2017 @ 4:37pm
              Rugby Tragic said | April 16th 2017 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

              cuw, they have Stephen Perofeta as first five, but he is injured presently … he was signed showing plenty of promise for the U20’s. Hope to see him get some game time.

              Gus Pulu as skipper? … Geez, good player but I’d hope not. He spends enough time organising to clear rucks slowing momentum too many times, if he was burdened to think of the Captain’s role as well …………… hmmm you know what I mean..

              • April 16th 2017 @ 5:05pm
                cuw said | April 16th 2017 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

                i did not think he was good at U20. i dont think he played all games – there was another guy , Vaa or someone ….

                that group had Shaun Stevenson and leni Apisai as standout players. even Sam nok and Jordan trainor were ok but nothing to write home about.

                i think the problem with Pulu is , he does not trust the 10. maybe someone like Donald could have bossed Pulu.

              • April 16th 2017 @ 7:46pm
                Rugby Tragic said | April 16th 2017 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

                Perofeta came with huge raps for 1st Five or Fullback… Sam Nock is a halfback… sure ‘nothing special’ yet but a talent that needs to be nurtured.

                You might be right about Pulu but he is frustrating in that a lot of his clearances are not ‘instinctive’ but to be fair, he is a lot better when he has Luatua giving him a bit of protection ..

            • April 17th 2017 @ 3:07pm
              ClarkeG said | April 17th 2017 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

              Francis is leaving at seasons end to Northampton I think. I don’t consider this a loss for the Blues but an opportunity to fix an ongoing problem.

              I would not be surprised if he presses ahead with Gatland for the rest of this season (subject to West’s injury). I don’t think Gatland is the type of player that will set the stadium on fire but he might prove to be consistently more reliable than others who have had their chances. Francis and West have certainly had theirs.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 3:22pm
                cuw said | April 17th 2017 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

                at this moment i think the ideal 10 for Blues would be Danny Cipriani. he is mature and playing well. in fact he plays too much of a SH game for the coaches liking ๐Ÿ™‚

                I think OB is out of contract after 2017. maybe he shud look for more game with Blues.

                one issue i see with Blues is they have too many backs who can break and run 100m on their own , so most of the time they end up running and holding on rather than passing. they just dont have a guy like Crotty or Conrad Smith…..

              • April 18th 2017 @ 8:34am
                ClarkeG said | April 18th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

                An Englishmen steering the Blues cuw? …don’t think so…oh hang on a sec …Francis is an Englishmen…

                Cipriani had a stint at the Melbourne Rebels did he not…how did that go?

                Otere Black you would think would be an option for the Blues. Just depends on whether or not he is interested in being a Blue.

                McGahan appears to have dropped off the radar.

                SBW is meant to be the Blues ‘Crotty – Smith’ but he was far from that against the Hurricanes.

              • April 18th 2017 @ 7:48pm
                cuw said | April 18th 2017 @ 7:48pm | ! Report

                the “fit” of a player depends on the team – cip didnot play well with rebels but then there was a welsh forward who captained them i think .

                haskell played for a nz team but i dont think he even got on the field but tanaka was a popular guy.

                Leach plays every day for chiefs (but then he is a NZder) and there was another englishman who played 2nd row – symons ?

                i think cips will do well with Blues – he is 10 who runs a lot and blues have the runners , infact too many of them , they fail to defend properly !!

                my explanation or assumption is – the level of skills and instincts in NZ teams is so much better and different to other places, anyone who comes either has to learn or get out. some like to learn while others just cant gget into that high gear.

                it is not only foreigners who lag – there are a lot of nzders who thrive in europe but were non-entities at home. i mean who would have thought of Jimmy Gopperth or Hadleigh Parkes being star performers ??

    • April 16th 2017 @ 8:17am
      Highlander said | April 16th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      Congrats to the Rebels — huge game

      But for all the talk of an attacking renaissance at the Brumbies on the back of 40 minutes last week, a Larkham side again shows a horrible lack of imanagination even against 13 men.

      • Roar Guru

        April 16th 2017 @ 8:21am
        Diggercane said | April 16th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

        Really disappointing step backwards, have to agree.

        • April 16th 2017 @ 8:24am
          Highlander said | April 16th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

          I see Timani cited this morning, this won’t end well for him I suspect

          • Roar Guru

            April 16th 2017 @ 8:54am
            Machooka said | April 16th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

            Dumb, dumb!

          • April 16th 2017 @ 7:50pm
            Rugby Tragic said | April 16th 2017 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

            might get a month

          • April 17th 2017 @ 3:24pm
            cuw said | April 17th 2017 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

            considering players have been sent off for lesser things, it was a rubbish decision not to give him a red card.

            it seems the refs are all caught up with the high tackle thing, they have forgotten that the red card was introduced to stop dirty play like what happened.

      • April 16th 2017 @ 9:08am
        Bluetooth said | April 16th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        well said highlander very disappointing from the brumbies

    • Roar Guru

      April 16th 2017 @ 8:51am
      Machooka said | April 16th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      Happy Easter everyone… and what the hell happened last night Brums, Stormers, Jags???

      Good stuff again Diggeriwi… thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ KDM, KDM

    • April 16th 2017 @ 9:13am
      Pinetree said | April 16th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      Blues letting their season down again by failing to beat the kiwi sides. They have played 5 out of 6 NZ sides and lost all, but have beaten all other sides so far. If they can beat all other non NZ sides and maybe take the last kiwi game, then they could end on a positive season, if there lose more than 7 games they should be disappointed.

      Highlanders have played 5 NZ sides as well, and have won 2 of those, and have beaten the 2 overseas teams. They could make a come back in points if they can beat the overseas teams and the perhaps even get one back on the Crusaders. But they will need to start winning or they could have an ordinary season for their recent standard.

      The Chiefs looking good, although you can’t help but feel they may end up in the playoffs, but not first and losing to an away team at the end of the season.

      Crusaders in a good position, but they have only faced 2 NZ sides, and they are the Blues and Highlanders who are doing the worst in the NZ conference. The remaining 4 games against NZ teams will decide the Crusaders fate as this is where they have failed most years. The Crusaders have always had an excellent record against overseas teams.

      The Stormers have been better than I gave them credit for earlier in the season, and the win last week against the Chiefs was massive for them, but they still have the 4 other kiwi sides, This includes the next 3 games in NZ playing the Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes, a bye, then the blues at home in SA. They have to play away the Sharks, Cheetahs and the Bulls which could prove tough games for the Stormers also. I am still not convinced that the Stromers will be near the top on Points at the end of the rounds, but they will easily top their conference.

      The Hurricanes and Lions are looking the goods for me. Building form as the season goes on, strong attack and defence, done what they needed to do early in the season to gain a good position, and I reckon they will get better as the season moves to its conclusion. These could well be the 2 teams we see in the final for a repeat of last year. Except this time I think the Canes will be travelling…..

      • April 16th 2017 @ 9:20am
        Pinetree said | April 16th 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        Chiefs losing away from home in the playoffs in what I meant lol

      • April 16th 2017 @ 10:48am
        Cantab said | April 16th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        Crusaders have the most favourable draw they have ever had.

        They play the strongest SA teams at home (stormers) or not at all (lions). And the weak SA teams away. Played the tah’s and reds when they were hugely out of form, and only play the chiefs once this year.

        But as you pointed out, it’s the 3 games against the chiefs and the hurricanes (x2) will determine who wins the conference.

        Beating the highlanders in Dunedin was a big achievement.

        Which team suffers the least injuries to key players could be the deciding factor.

      • April 16th 2017 @ 2:10pm
        Rugby Tragic said | April 16th 2017 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

        Good summary post pinetree

      • Roar Guru

        April 16th 2017 @ 5:23pm
        Diggercane said | April 16th 2017 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

        Seems a pretty reasonable summary at this point pinetree

    • April 16th 2017 @ 9:18am
      jonnyacidseed said | April 16th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      Loved the Blues/Canes game. Classic arm wrestle of a game with some individual flashes of brilliance. Great to see the Blues playing such improved consistent rugby this year. (I know – consistently losing, but still all good strong games)

      • April 16th 2017 @ 9:33am
        taylorman said | April 16th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        Yes theyve lost four derbys by 4,9,6 and 4. Just shows how tough this conference is.

        They’d be clear leaders of at least two other conferences where the second down sides have minus differentials, Blues at fifth have +33.

        I think 2017 represents the biggest gap in conferences we’ve ever seen.

        • April 16th 2017 @ 12:34pm
          Jibba Jabba said | April 16th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

          Maybe the Blues can transfer to Perth ??? Would win the Aussie conference in a canter !

          • Roar Guru

            April 16th 2017 @ 2:27pm
            Machooka said | April 16th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

            Settle!

          • April 16th 2017 @ 5:50pm
            taylorman said | April 16th 2017 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

            Perth? Ok…where’s that again?๐Ÿ˜€

            • April 16th 2017 @ 7:32pm
              Jibba Jabba said | April 16th 2017 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

              7 hrs west of auckland… 7 south of singapore, by air not road…. next to the swan river ๐Ÿ™‚ hop, skip & a jumpppppppp

              • April 16th 2017 @ 7:54pm
                Rugby Tragic said | April 16th 2017 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

                5.5 hours from Singapore in a head wind

              • April 16th 2017 @ 7:57pm
                Jibba Jabba said | April 16th 2017 @ 7:57pm | ! Report

                I included the time in bar pre flight ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Roar Guru

        April 16th 2017 @ 5:24pm
        Diggercane said | April 16th 2017 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

        The results alone don’t recognise the improvements in the side, I agree though the same weaknesses perhaps still apply.

        • April 16th 2017 @ 7:55pm
          Rugby Tragic said | April 16th 2017 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

          What improvements Digger … the only currency in rugby is wins! *groaning*

          • Roar Guru

            April 17th 2017 @ 4:42pm
            Diggercane said | April 17th 2017 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

            The light is coming mate, you will see

    • Columnist

      April 16th 2017 @ 9:49am
      Geoff Parkes said | April 16th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

      Good call re the scheduling Digger.

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