Five talking points from Super Rugby Round 17

Charlie Lawry Roar Guru

By , Charlie Lawry is a Roar Guru

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    Super Rugby Round 17 is in the bag. Here are five talking points as we approach the pointy end of the season.

    1. There’s life in the Moon Dogs yet
    A second-half blitz by the Sunwolves helped them sign off their season in style against the Blues at Prince Chichibu Stadium.

    Japanese fans have been starved of highlights this year, but their team delivered an afternoon full of them. Down 14-21 at half-time, the home side found another gear, powering past the Kiwis to win 48-21.

    The Blues did themselves no favours with a number of errors, but it was the relentless Sunwolves pressure in sweltering heat that forced the turnovers. Yoshitaka Tokunaga’s miracle try at the end capped off a cracking result.

    It was the perfect tonic to many viewers’ late-season malaise. I say ‘viewers’; I meant ‘Australians’. Anyway, welcome to the conference.

    2. The Brumbies have no business hosting a final
    Maybe it’s unfair to make direct comparisons between the Brumbies and the Chiefs. Unfortunately, they played each other, so we have to. It was a stark contrast of ability in Hamilton on Saturday.

    The Brumbies tried to do the right thing, keeping the ball in hand, but found it tough to penetrate. Every time the Chiefs spread the ball, they found space. The passing and intuition of the Kiwis was always that much crisper.

    Led by Tawera Kerr-Barlow, the likes of James Lowe and Damian McKenzie had a field day. McKenzie alone threw three flick passes. A timely reminder that rugby can be fun.

    Meanwhile, the Brumbies look like little more than training fodder for the Hurricanes next week.

    3. The Crusaders are beatable
    Despite a raft of last-minute changes, the Hurricanes showed that the table-topping Crusaders are human after all, inflicting their first loss of the season.

    With Beauden Barrett and Vince Aso withdrawn in the hour before kick-off, the Crusaders dominated the early exchanges, racing to a 12-0 lead. Their trademark composure and winning instinct abandoned them soon after, however, as did the referee’s favour. Glen Jackson stung the Crusaders for 16 penalties compared to just seven against the home side.

    Despite the good vibes at Westpac Stadium, plenty of All Blacks fans will be asking why the wrong Barrett was kicking in the drawn third Test against the Lions. Jordie Barrett had a laser in his right boot all night ‒ five out of five mostly from the sideline.

    Ngani Laumape Wes Goosen Hurricanes Super Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

    4. Full-stop or ellipsis on the Force farce?
    There’s always a risk we appreciate things more when they’re on the verge of extinction. Fans in Perth have certainly found their voice in recent weeks as the season winds down.

    Yet in the face of contract ambiguity, the Force have made a serious case for survival. The scenes at nib Stadium as the Force trounced the Tahs 40-11 were something else. In pouring rain, the crowd rose as one to urge foundation player Matt Hodgson to kick a farewell penalty at the final whistle. You know he slotted it, too.

    Think on this. The Force finish 2017 with the same amount of wins as the Brumbies. One of them gets a home final. The other is being primed for the chop. However things plays out, the ARU has cooked it through its inaction.

    5. Waratahs fall off a cliff, into a ravine, over a waterfall…
    And CLANG into the bottom of the barrel. At least you’d really, really hope that’s the bottom.

    There’s nothing left to say about the Waratahs. They’ve gone from underachievers to laughing stock to abomination. The fans (…anyone?) don’t deserve the sludge that’s been served up in 2017.

    Daryl Gibson must need the money because anyone else would have resigned out of embarrassment. The lowly Sunwolves have conceded more than 80 points twice this season, yet even they finish with their heads held higher.

    Imagine being the biggest rugby franchise in the country and having to stick with your inept coach for another whole year because you can’t afford to pay out his contract.

    Burn it down. Start again.

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