The Roar
The Roar


Force apart, a miserable weekend for the Aussies

Ben Meehan of the Rebels reacts as Melani Nanai of the Blues scores a try during the round 1 Super Rugby match between the Melbourne Rebels and the Blues at AAMI Park in Melbourne, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)
Roar Guru
5th March, 2017
1117 Reads

Apart from the Force and their well-deserved win against the Reds on Thursday night, it was a miserable old round for the Aussie Super Rugby teams on the weekend.

On Saturday afternoon the Rebels were blown away 71-6 by the Hurricanes in Wellington. Later that night the Brumbies snatched defeat from the jaws of a draw to go down 22-27 against the Sharks via a try to the visitors after the final hooter in Canberra. 

While on Sunday morning AEST the Lions had too much up front for the Waratahs, downing them 55-36 in Jo Burg.

That’s three losses out of three for Australian sides playing overseas teams for a combined 153 points against to 64 for with just eight tries for to 21 against.

 Admittedly 11 of those five-pointers conceded were by the Rebels in their Wellington routing.

The Brumbies actually out-scored the Sharks 3-2 on the try front, while the Tahs managed to cross for five and had a sixth called back for a line-balish forward pass.

But any ability to get over the line was negated by the inability to stop the leakage of points at the other end.

In all four losing Aussie sides, an inability brought about by a lack of sustained intensity and accuracy was compounded by some critical lapses in discipline at the weekend.

The lack of discipline was particularly costly for the Tahs who played one quarter of their match with only 14 men. This came courtesy of a yellow card each to winger Reece Robinson in the 10th minute for a brain-snap spear tackle and prop Sekope Kepu, for the visitors’ repeated infringing at the ruck.

Such was the strength of the Lions’ scrum and maul forward effort, the Tahs – minus Bernard Foley and a revived Will Skelton – probably would not have won the game had they kept their full complement on the field, but the sin binnings made their loss against last year’s grand finalists a certainty.


In Robinson’s absence the home side scored two tries to one, including centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg’s scooting through a hole in the right side defence the Tahs’ winger would likely have plugged had he been there.


One minute after Kepu’s departure, the Waratahs were forced to defend their line with only seven forwards in a five-metre scrum that proved easy meat for the Lions pack who marched them back for a simple try to man-of-the-match halfback Ross Cronje.

Contrast this to when the Lions packed down a scrum with only seven men following the 57th-minute binning of their lock Franco Mostert. 

They initially held then popped the Tahs front row to win a tighthead in a moment that was symbolic of their dominance.

Several times throughout the match the New South Welshmen looked out on their feet, sucking in the thin ones on the high veldt as the home side attacked from all corners. You can’t blame that on their numerical disadvantage, but it didn’t help.

And it was a contributing factor to them missing a whopping 36 tackles, a count coach Darryl Gibson rightly called a “horrific stat”.

Of the few brights spots were the eye-catching displays by youngsters, fullback Michael Kellaway who busted four tackles for 102m that included the assist to Israel Folau’s well-taken try on full time, and blindside Jack Dempsey who carried strongly.


The Brumbies’ faithful must have thought they were in for a belter of a night when Henry Speight flew onto Kyle Godwin’s peach of a 30m cut-out pass to score within two minutes of kick off.

Especially given it was Speight’s mate on the other wing James Dargaville who had thrown into the lineout that had set up the scoring play in a real back to the future moment.

Twenty two minutes later hooker Josh Mann-Rea made good use of the energy Dargaville had conserved for him by crashing over for the Brumbies’ second try from a rolling lineout drive.

That, added to a penalty, had the Canberrans ahead 15-3 after 31 minutes.

Unfortunately for them and their fans it was the Sharks who scored the next 22 points of the match, starting when the Beast Tendai Mtawarira barged over for a try five minutes before the break.

Twelve minutes after it Godwin undid his good early work when he was binned for cynical interference of a potential try scoring play by the Sharks.

Repeated infringements built more scoreboard pressure against the Brumbies as visiting 10 Pat Lambie slotted five of his seven penalty kicks.


The locals finally had something to cheer about again in the 69th minute when slick hands from an attacking lineout drive had Tevita Kurundrani over near the sticks.

Wharenui Hawera added the extras to lock it all up at 22-22.

But some sloppy lineouts and more ill discipline meant the Brumbies were unable to hang on for the draw.

Just after the final siren sounded a crucial turnover gave Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am the winning try.

Golden salvaging opportunity lost to inaccuracy and ill discipline.

For the second week in a row the Rebels came firing out of the blocks and, amazingly given the overall context of the game, had the better of the opening 15 minutes.

No.8 Amanaki Mafi was particularly impressive, popping up with muscular carries and proving a handful at the breakdown while big booting backs Reece Hodge and Jack Debreczeni gave their team useful field position.


Hodge’s two penalties gave the visitors a 6-0 lead up until the 17th minute when Beauden Barrett and co decided enough was enough and began the 11-try demolition job.

It wasn’t as if the Rebels did anything majorly wrong, they simply had the game taken away from them in an awesome display of attacking firepower.

After his year off hat-trick hero Nehe Milner-Skudder was instantly back to his fancy-footed best at fullback while halfback TJ Perenara was just lethal. As was every Canes’ back in between them.

None moreso than inside centre Ngani Laumape who’s 168m netted two tries and five clean breaks. While unheralded right wing Vince Aso also scored a double from his 114m and three clean breaks.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the dynamic aggression of the Canes’ big men up front.

But it was Barrett who was pulling the trigger on all the big guns with his brilliant running, passing, chipping and chasing. The All Black maestro has a crystal clarity of vision to see all the opportunities that abound around him and the supreme confidence and skills to turn them into points.

Beauden Barrett of the HURRICANES


Apart from Dan Carter at his 2005 Lions-taming best, has there been anything quite like him in the number 10 jersey?

And I can’t leave without making mention of yet another classic South Island derby. What a pulsating, brutal beauty of a beast that one was under the Forsyth Bar roof on Saturday night.

Even as a Crusaders fan I felt a twinge for the southerners when Seta Tamanivalu slammed the ball down with his single big mitt at the death to snatch the improbable win.

But the sorrow was fleeting. How sweet it is when both your team and rugby were the winners on the night.