The High Five: Super Rugby Round 12

Diggercane Roar Guru

By Diggercane, Diggercane is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    Round 12 of Super Rugby has come to a close with early bragging rights within the New Zealand conference decided, and the race is on for the top sides to put themselves in the best possible positions come the playoffs.

    The Lions sweep their Australian tour
    The Lions have become known for their enterprising attack but in Canberra showed they are more than capable of slugging it out in the trenches in a tense and tight affair over the Brumbies by 13 points to 6, a 70 meter run away effort from flanker Kwagga Smith proving the difference.

    Canberra is always a tough place to play and on the third week of their overseas tour, the Lions were not the cohesive unit one would expect while the Brumbies made life very difficult for the visitors, competing hard across the park but ultimately for the home side, their inability to find the try line for the second week in a row proving costly.

    For the Lions, it was an important victory and now head back to South Africa. They certainly look capable of sweeping through the rest of the round robin and are in a prime spot to earn the top qualifying position come the playoffs.

    Anthony Volmink Lions Super Rugby Union 2017
    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Crusaders reign supreme
    In an eagerly awaited clash, the Crusaders repelled the challenge from the Hurricanes to win by 20 points to 12 in a tense and additional encounter in Christchurch.

    The defence from both sides was intense and the usual attacking flair we have come to expect from these sides was snuffed out time and time again and it was ultimately the better set piece from the Crusaders which proved the biggest point of difference between the two sides.

    The Hurricanes had a night to forget in the lineout, squandering several opportunities within the Crusaders 22, succumbing to the pressure placed on them from the Crusaders pack and the difference maker being a well taken lineout maul by the Crusaders as they fractured the Hurricanes defensive effort for Matt Todd to score the only try of the match.

    It was a tremendous performance from the Crusaders, fresh off the plane from South Africa to continue their unbeaten run in 2017 and still missing some of their biggest names while the Hurricanes have suffered the second defeat of the season, again to one of their closest rivals within New Zealand and again due to their tight five being outplayed.

    Suva shapes as a defining match within the New Zealand conference
    With the Crusaders getting over the top of the Hurricanes, they now face another stern challenge from fellow conference rivals the Chiefs away in Suva which could prove a definitive match in the race for top spot within the New Zealand conference, another win for the Crusaders would make it very difficult for either the Chiefs or Hurricanes to catch them.

    Alternatively for the Chiefs, with a game in hand, a victory in Suva will drag the Crusaders back to within reaching distance for them and will give them the chance for an assault for the top position. They will certainly fancy their chances, given the Crusaders have only just come back from overseas and being fresh from the bye, it is a prime opportunity.

    The Hurricanes are not quite out of the race as yet, with return matches against both the Chiefs and Crusaders in Wellington to come but after their loss in Christchurch, they will now need some help with the heavy lifting if they are able to catch the Crusaders on points.

    Mitchell Drummond Crusaders Super Rugby Union 2017
    (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    The Australian conference gets tighter
    With the Brumbies going down to the Lions on Friday night and the Waratahs enjoying the bye this weekend, the rest of the Australian sides had the opportunity to make up some ground on the conference leaders and so it has proved for both the Reds and Force, scoring valuable away wins over the weekend.

    The Reds withstood a late comeback from the Rebels in Melbourne to earn a bonus point win in a thriller by 29-24 and the Force ground their way to a hard-fought win in an ill-tempered affair over the Jaguares in Buenos Aires by 16 points to 6.

    While the Brumbies still look to be in the box seat, they now have to embark on their overseas tour while their conference rivals do not need to stray too far away from home, one slip up will open the door wide for their conference rivals to overtake them and the Reds and Waratahs in particular have reasonable draws ahead of them. The Australian conference is wide open.

    queensland-reds-super-rugby-2017
    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Back to the future for Cheika
    With the absence of David Pocock this season one cannot help but notice the superb form of the evergreen George Smith for the Reds who week in and week out continues to impress for his Reds side to arguably be their most consistent performer.

    I can’t help but wonder if Wallaby Coach Michael Cheika will be considering a recall for the Wallaby great? And why not, he is playing tremendously and his experience would be a valuable asset for the Wallabies in 2017 and shapes as a like for like replacement for Pocock.

    Forget the ‘Pooper’, maybe the ‘Smooper’ will be the talk of the town. Scott Higginbotham too is looking good for a recall with a solid 2017 for the Reds and would certainly add some valuable depth and experience to the Wallaby loose forward stocks.

    So there are my five major talking points from this round as the race for the playoffs begin in earnest and for something a bit different, check out the Hurricanes lineout with Jordie Barrett and Julian Savea taking part, Barrett actually winning the ball and perhaps proving Harry Jones’ point in one of his latest pieces.

    Until next week then!

    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 (123)

    • May 14th 2017 @ 11:05am
      ads2600 said | May 14th 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report

      I can’t read most of the articles, as the pictures are imposed over the top of the words. I am on safari on iOS.

      • Roar Guru

        May 14th 2017 @ 11:30am
        El Gamba said | May 14th 2017 @ 11:30am | ! Report

        Been having the same problem lately, iPhone…

      • Editor

        May 14th 2017 @ 12:45pm
        Josh Elliott said | May 14th 2017 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

        Apologies for that fellas. This one should hopefully work better for you now. We’ll look into it.

        • May 14th 2017 @ 9:49pm
          ads2600 said | May 14th 2017 @ 9:49pm | ! Report

          Much better thanks Josh!

      • May 14th 2017 @ 2:16pm
        ThugbyFan said | May 14th 2017 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

        Nice write up Digger, and wasn’t the Crusaders vs Hurricanes match a ripper, even if your mob didn’t win by plenty. Tough skilled in-your-face rugby with the better drilled piggies winning the match. Silly me; tipped your mob on the basis that the Crusaders would miss S.Whitelock and be travel weary and then I watch the match drinking Urban Crusader beer.

        However I did make up as Piru and I had more faith in them Force boys than the tipping panel (snigger).

        And surely the comment of the round MUST be from Geoff Parkes blogging about the dust-up in the 13th minute of the Rebels vs Reds game. As QC is bent over the fence by two Rebel players, GP comments “Cooper was helping himself to the punter’s chips in row 1 there…” That’s gold. 🙂

        • May 14th 2017 @ 6:26pm
          Piru said | May 14th 2017 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

          I told youse!

          Glad someone else has faith

        • May 14th 2017 @ 6:26pm
          Piru said | May 14th 2017 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

          I told youse!

          Glad someone else has faith

        • Roar Guru

          May 15th 2017 @ 3:33pm
          Jokerman said | May 15th 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

          I cannot believe the Lions play no kiwi sides. I believe that is correct? It’s almost rigged!! It just seems a little too good to be true…

          Can you imagine if the Lions had the Crusaders draw? They would be somewhere around 7th on the table.

          I’m hoping now the Crusaders win their remaining games so they get top spot.

          I’m not being greedy here but under a fair system, NZ would have five teams in the top eight. I wouldn’t be too bothered with a wild card team making the playoffs but they shouldn’t get home advantage.

          • May 15th 2017 @ 3:42pm
            Tigranes said | May 15th 2017 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

            The Lions played Kiwi sides last year and beat two of them in the rounds and knocked two more off in the play-offs.

            I’m sure the Lions would rather play the NZ sides than the Australian sides in any event – they can’t be blamed for the draw. And since they brought in the conference system, NZ has been the main beneficiary in terms of wins.

            • Roar Guru

              May 15th 2017 @ 6:19pm
              Jokerman said | May 15th 2017 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

              Two SA teams guaranteed home finals, no matter how good or bad they are. NZ teams play the best four teams twice (each other). That’s eight really hard games. The Lions not once ever. That is eight times they don’t play the best.

              How can the kiwi teams knock the Lions down when they don’t even play them? Someone is positioning them for a home final and it’s only the brilliance of the kiwi teams that prevents it.

              The best SA team that plays in the Super but never plays a kiwi team…is just absurd.

        • Roar Guru

          May 16th 2017 @ 6:48am
          Diggercane said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:48am | ! Report

          Cheers Thug, and I concur, Geoffs commentary was outstanding.

    • May 14th 2017 @ 11:06am
      andrewM said | May 14th 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      No mention of the Force’s away win Digger? I’m disappointed!

      • May 14th 2017 @ 11:11am
        Diggercane said | May 14th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        It’s there, though admittedly not in depth.

      • May 14th 2017 @ 7:02pm
        Suzy Poison said | May 14th 2017 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

        Loved the Force win. Loved the Kings win too. The teams living on death row are giving a big middle finger to Sanzar.

        • May 15th 2017 @ 1:51pm
          woodart said | May 15th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

          nothing like imminent extinction to fire teams up.

    • May 14th 2017 @ 11:15am
      aussikiwi said | May 14th 2017 @ 11:15am | ! Report

      *attritional* re Canes v Saders?

      One thing that struck me was that the Rebels could easily have won through penalties, with the Reds still being three tries clear. Would the Reds then have got two bonus points?

      And congrats to the Force, big effort.

      • Columnist

        May 14th 2017 @ 11:31am
        Geoff Parkes said | May 14th 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

        yes aussikiwi, you can still get two bonus points if you lose, although it would be more unusual now under the new try scoring system.

        Thanks Digger. As aussikiwi points out, that’s a nice typo/auto correct, or did I miss something and did they play the game twice? 🙂

        • Roar Guru

          May 14th 2017 @ 12:09pm
          taylorman said | May 14th 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

          Yes 99 from 33 penalties to 96 from three tries and 27 penalties would do it.

          • Columnist

            May 14th 2017 @ 12:51pm
            Geoff Parkes said | May 14th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

            🙂

          • May 14th 2017 @ 2:20pm
            ThugbyFan said | May 14th 2017 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

            No conversions???

            • Roar Guru

              May 14th 2017 @ 2:35pm
              taylorman said | May 14th 2017 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

              Nope, both sides had a burning desire to illustrate the point to aussikiwi and didn’t want to get the math wrong, easy to do under pressure.

              Watching them deliberately miss the ones it front was farcical!😀

    • May 14th 2017 @ 12:14pm
      Targa said | May 14th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

      As a Highlanders’ fan I’m hoping the Cantabs can beat the Chiefs next week and the Canes when they play their return game. That will give us a good chance of going past the Hurricanes and Chiefs to hopefully get 2nd in the NZ conference and 5th on the overall table. Finishing 5th allows for a quarter final in Australia rather than playing the NZ conference winner or flying to South Africa for the quarters.

      • Roar Guru

        May 16th 2017 @ 6:49am
        Diggercane said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:49am | ! Report

        Good point Targa, fair to say I do not want that myself 😉

    • Roar Guru

      May 14th 2017 @ 12:16pm
      Machooka said | May 14th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

      Thanks Diggeriwi for ya ‘High Five’… and, again, commis onya Canes.

      Prior to the game it had all the hallmarks of what should be a fantastic encounter… alas, it was 80 mins of strangulation. And sustained pressure.

      When it’s like that it’s very difficult to play purrrfect open rugby. Hence, the Saders managed to suffocated their opposition.

      Well done Force… massive effort!

      • Roar Guru

        May 16th 2017 @ 6:50am
        Diggercane said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:50am | ! Report

        Cheers Chook, there’s another game to come yet 😉

    • May 14th 2017 @ 1:40pm
      Craig said | May 14th 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

      As well as Smith is playing, with Hooper and McMahon on hand and Higginbotham playing so well at 8, I think it’d be hard to justify having him in the 23. Would certainly look to involve him in Wallaby squad training and have him as an injury stand-by though.

      • May 14th 2017 @ 11:35pm
        Train Without A Station said | May 14th 2017 @ 11:35pm | ! Report

        George Smith told me he won’t be playing for the Wallabies.

        • May 15th 2017 @ 7:30am
          Fionn said | May 15th 2017 @ 7:30am | ! Report

          Yep, Smith is smart enough to know he needs to take care of his body, and a good enough bloke not to keep a younger guy out of the team.

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