The High Five: Super Rugby Round 4

Diggercane Roar Guru

By Diggercane, Diggercane is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger


86 Have your say

    Another Round of Super Rugby has drawn to a close and many of the results were as predicted, though a few eyebrows have been raised in the process as the ‘little’ guy punched back.

    A round for the ‘banished’
    The rumour mill has been in full swing of late as many deliberate the future of Super Rugby including the assumption of which teams will be cut from future editions of the competition as SANZAAR continue to procrastinate over the issue.

    Three of those sides heavily rumoured to be in the firing line, namely the Rebels, Brumbies and Kings put in performances over the weekend that belie their often maligned status as also-rans, the Rebels and Kings pushing their heavily favoured opponents – the Chiefs and Sharks – over the eighty while the Brumbies overcame the favoured Waratahs away in Sydney.

    It is unlikely that these one-off results will sway any likely future decisions but one couldn’t help think of these sides ‘flipping’ the imaginary bird to the tournament overlords after their recent performances.

    Scott Fardy Brumbies Rugby Union Super Rugby 2017

    Crusaders remain unbeaten
    Three games in a row now, the Crusaders have staged a second-half comeback to overturn a significant deficit to win their match and remain undefeated in 2017.

    This time around, it was the Blues who surrendered a 19-point lead to eventually lose by nine as the Crusaders pack took control of the game from the fiftieth minute and the Blues seemed powerless to stop it.

    It must be concerning for Crusaders coach Scott Robertson to once again see his side start another match slowly and he certainly knows it cannot continue against a few sides to come, but for now the Crusaders are the undisputed comeback kings of Super Rugby.

    Chiefs keep on keeping on
    The Chiefs rolled into Melbourne on Friday night, fresh off leaving three of their conference rivals in the dust and heavily favoured to obliterate the Rebels and continue to lead the overall standings.

    The match did not go quite as many would have envisioned with the Rebels showing plenty of starch to push the Chiefs hard until the final 10 minutes when the Chiefs managed to pull away from their scrappy opposition who benefited from the Kiwis’ ill-discipline on the night.

    Like a good side however, the Chiefs weathered the storm and still managed to pick up the bonus point to leave them sitting pretty at the top with 19 points from an available 20 after the first four rounds and underlining their early tournament favouritism.

    Tony McGahan Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby Union 2017

    Hurricanes bounce back
    Indulge me here but as a Hurricane fan I turned up to Westpac Stadium on Saturday wanting to see my team come back hard after last week’s disappointing performance against the Chiefs and they delivered, dispatching an injury-ravaged Highlanders side and earning a bonus point victory.

    It was not all smooth sailing as the Highlanders fought hard across the first fifty minutes until their lack of depth told and the Hurricanes sailed away in the last quarter.

    The younger brothers of their more famous All Black siblings, Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett, were prominent in the match and the Hurricanes now head into the bye in a reasonable position, third in their conference.

    The Highlanders, after three losses already after the first four rounds, will be hoping Waisake Naholo’s uncle can work some magic and get some of their cavalry back onto the pitch as their season threatens to get away from them.

    Lions start to recapture their 2016 form
    After a setback last week in Argentina, the Lions hit the ground running, literally, at home against the Reds, winning by a comfortable 30-point margin.

    They suffocated the Reds, forcing the Queenslanders to do a mountain of work on defence as they simply kept coming, the pressure eventually telling early in the second half, a yellow card to Etu Nabuli and a red to Quade Cooper shortly after a direct result of the pressure from the Lions offence.

    The floodgates flung open from that point, the Lions pacy winger nabbing four tries individually.

    A worrying note for other sides in the competition was that their performance was hardly perfect, their attack permeated with a number of unforced errors and there is improvement to be had by this impressive side.

    Their form playing at home is well known, if they can begin to replicate these performances while travelling then it is not hard to see this side topping the overall competition standings come the finals this year.

    So that wraps up Round four of Super Rugby with my five major talking points, and after the first month of Super Rugby already you can start to see how the competition is starting to stack up as several early competition favourites start to distance themselves from the rest of the field.

    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 (86)

    • Roar Guru

      March 19th 2017 @ 1:13pm
      Mark Richmond said | March 19th 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

      2 great things for me this round……we beat the Tahs, and I tipped the round?

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 2:49pm
        Lano said | March 19th 2017 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

        Likewise, what a pleasure!

        • Roar Rookie

          March 19th 2017 @ 3:17pm
          Die hard said | March 19th 2017 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

          I picked the Waratahs. It is not the first time they have let me down ☺

          • March 20th 2017 @ 3:47am
            Chinmay Hejmadi said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:47am | ! Report

            I’m going to think twice before tipping the Tahs now. No matter the opponent.

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 4:29pm
        Diggercane said | March 19th 2017 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

        A great day!

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 4:25am
        Nobrain said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:25am | ! Report

        My golden run continues, but I will tip the Tahs next week if Foley is back.

    • Roar Guru

      March 19th 2017 @ 1:29pm
      The Neutral View From Sweden said | March 19th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

      Another nice one Digger. You really are in the know about Super Rugby.

      Crusaders indeed have to start performing earlier in their games if the want to be contenders. But one can not help to think that it is gonna be harder and harder for themselves to really believe it, because it does not seem to matter; they win anyway.

      Nice to see 17 000 + at Westpac. But I still wonder, how come it is not close to sell out crowds every home game? Canes have been world class for a couple of seasons and you have several super stars in the team, you are champions, what more can fans ask for?
      The game in itself reminded me from start to finish of an AB game. The other team thought hard and bravely for 50-60 minutes, but then fatigue and lack of depth comes in to play and the battle is over.

      Brodie Retallick is the best player in NZ right now. His start of the season have been sensational.

      It is shaping up to be a nice little battle in the Africa 2 conference. Lions, Sharks and Jaguares all look like contenders for the playoff. And they play Aussie teams all season long.

      • Columnist

        March 19th 2017 @ 1:32pm
        Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

        There was a big cricket match on across town NV.
        New Zealand was going so well (against SA) the crowds had flocked into the Basin to see them, instead of the rugby.

        • Roar Guru

          March 19th 2017 @ 1:39pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | March 19th 2017 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

          Hey GP

          I was under the impression that big cricket games in Wellington was played at Westpac 😉

          And overall this critique is not only directed to Canes but to all NZ franchises. Top quality rugby in a rugby mad country, still so many empty seats week in and week out.

          • March 19th 2017 @ 1:49pm
            Darwin Stubbie said | March 19th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

            The only other game in NZ was in Christchurch – which looked full … so far both Dunedin and Hamilton have had pretty decent crowds over the previous weeks … only Alkd would look as being their std apathetic selves

            • Roar Guru

              March 19th 2017 @ 1:58pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | March 19th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

              The stadium in Christchurch looked like a sell out, but is that not the smallest stadium in Super Rugby (and the game is arguably the most classic rivalry in SR)?

              The crowds in Dunedin and Hamilton might be decent – is the glass half full or half empty – but I still stay there is room for a lot of improvement.

              I raise this question because it is confusing. NZ tick every box in the sport marketing manual for how to build a successful league with capacity crowds.
              How was it back in the amateur days? From what I have seen on YouTube, huge crowds were the norm.

              • Roar Rookie

                March 19th 2017 @ 2:21pm
                Die hard said | March 19th 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

                I don’t think you realize how small the population of these non Auckland cities compared to here. Seventeen thousand is a pretty good early season crowd.

              • March 19th 2017 @ 2:24pm
                Darwin Stubbie said | March 19th 2017 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

                You might have missed the fact Chch got flattened by an earthquake .. hence the need for a temporary stadium ….

                As for Dunedin and Hamilton games – those matches looked close to full … I think you’re trying to find a problem when there isn’t actually one

              • Roar Guru

                March 19th 2017 @ 2:47pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | March 19th 2017 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

                @Die Hard. I do realize how small they are. But there are hundreds of teams over the world that resides in small cities but have huge crowds. If 17 000 is good or not depends on what you compare it with.

                @Darwin: To assume that I don’t know about the earthquake is a cheap shot. But maybe that is the way you roll?

              • Roar Guru

                March 19th 2017 @ 2:55pm
                Fionn said | March 19th 2017 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

                How expensive are tickets? If one is being squeezed by the cost of living they may prefer to simply stay at home and watch it in comfort than to pay for 3-4 tickets if they have kids.

              • Roar Rookie

                March 19th 2017 @ 5:17pm
                atlas said | March 19th 2017 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

                Tickets …We paid NZ$25, for cheap end-of-stadium seats, as we did for previous matches v Rebels, there’s no policing of where you sit in a half-fullstadium, we settled for seats just off halfway, as good as anyone could buy…
                This was just my second live Super match since 2008 – now live out of NZ.
                My perception, a general disinterest in rugby, plus so much else to do/spend money on. Night of Rebels match (15301), a sold-out 22,000 music concert Homegrown about 1 km from stadium, following morning Newtown Festival, foods, arts, music, south side of city, over 70,000 attended during the day.
                2008. Was it the ‘good old days’? I looked at the Super stats for 2008, only one game that year had more than the 17593 I was part of last night. It was v Crusaders and a huge 31000 attended. Others all between 13500 and 16900.
                I go along with same group of friends as back then, only one has an adult child with an interest in rugby …Is this the future…A crowd of old men in 2037?

              • March 19th 2017 @ 2:56pm
                ClarkeG said | March 19th 2017 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

                There were huge crowds for the huge games.

              • March 19th 2017 @ 3:09pm
                Darwin Stubbie said | March 19th 2017 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

                Not meant to be cheap shot – but you’re welcome to take it whatever way you perceive … You brought up the size of the stadium I merely gave you the reason for it … 17k last night was a decent crowd given the cricket and races were on and the Hurricanes historic record in pulling a crowd in Wgtn

        • March 19th 2017 @ 1:44pm
          Darwin Stubbie said | March 19th 2017 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

          Oaks / ladies day at Trentham as well … few things on yesterday to occupy the public service

          • March 19th 2017 @ 3:56pm
            woodart said | March 19th 2017 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

            speedway at te marua last night as well

            • March 20th 2017 @ 10:31am
              Dubaikiwi said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

              Drove round their against the jesters VW

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 4:33pm
        Diggercane said | March 19th 2017 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

        Hi Neutral,

        Thanks for the post.

        A few people have already named some reasons but it was also the opening day of senior club rugby with a gala day as well so plenty of alternative activities in Wellington on the day. Crowd was reasonable for the time of year I think, though on a personal level I am unsure why more people didn’t turn up.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 2:24pm
        Jamez said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

        Imho, 17k at a Super Rugby game in Wellington isnt too shabby, but 10k at the Wellington 7’s that was a shocker, even Canada (not sure how high Rugby ranks in Canadian sports) had 34k!?!, just doesnt make sense.

    • Columnist

      March 19th 2017 @ 1:30pm
      Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

      Thanks Digger – nice work by the Canes. Just the way to bounce back, and how good is it to see J Barrett mature and grow in confidence right in front of our eyes?

      Not wanting to get too far ahead of things, but it’s not inconceivable that we could see all three brothers in the same test line-up in a year or so?

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 1:46pm
        The Neutral View From Sweden said | March 19th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

        Jordie Barret is gonna be Hansen “ace in the sleeve” against the Lions me think.

        • March 19th 2017 @ 4:43pm
          OtakiCraig said | March 19th 2017 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

          Not sure about Jordie. Maybe it’s because he’s so tall, he looks a bit ungainly? Maybe not? I get the feeling he is not a natural runner, twice against the chiefs he should have passed and didn’t and tonight he should of backed himself and run but he looked for the pass, all seems confusing, especially sorrounded by a team of runners? I have my reservations for any higher honors at this stage.

          • March 19th 2017 @ 4:58pm
            Rugby Tragic said | March 19th 2017 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

            Hansen and Co think he’s the goods …

      • March 19th 2017 @ 1:58pm
        Darwin Stubbie said | March 19th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

        I’d say he needs to look at that no arms tackling technique that appears every now and then – for me he was fortunate last night that it looked more clumsy than anything else because of a mistiming … In the NPC last season he levelled a Manawatu winger and put him Disneyland with a no arms shoulder that should have resulted in a red … still very raw …

        as for his brother – Hansen cannot afford to start a lions test with that type of goal kicking – at present you’d have to think Cruden has the inside rail

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 4:39pm
        Diggercane said | March 19th 2017 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

        Thanks Geoff, no, I don’t imagine it would be inconceivable at all. I was joking with Harry the other day at how unique it would be if the three du Preez brothers were picked for the Springboks at the same time. How often would there have been a set of three brothers in each team facing off against one another?

    • March 19th 2017 @ 2:11pm
      Jock Cornet said | March 19th 2017 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

      Its time the so called experts address why our players are not up to standard. It’s time to develop our pathways this year so school leavers go to grade and colts. The experts have given the two fingers to the clubs and given the support to the academies. This year results shows the urgency the ARU need to develop our grass roots. NRC is only a small proportion of the development and does only exist due to Buildcorp and the district clubs. Wake up ROARERS the current academy model is a joke

    • Roar Guru

      March 19th 2017 @ 2:27pm
      Marius Ciliers said | March 19th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

      Grats on the Canes Digger.
      Commiserations Highlanders and Marauders fans.
      Old Bugger…The Sword wielding bastards shall be meeting the Chiefs within two points..
      We hope 😉
      With an Orca thrown in for good measure along the line.
      Tahs…WTH !!!!??
      Prancing Ponies,listen mates I love to hate you,don’t come with this lets play decent rugby thingy’s.
      You are making me like you..
      Sharks…them Kings ate the Pap yesterday morning..
      And you got a shelacking. .I don’t give a hoot what that score says.
      You lost dudes ..
      Bulls….seriously mates…
      I expect beter.
      Last time I saw Fort Loftus that empty was with a bomb scare..and I was still in the stands ..
      Lions…Good job..come let me pet you..
      Jaguares..OLA !!!
      And good job.

      No longer pinned in the shadow of giants,I am absolutely loving my Saders team right now.
      Still not gelling as they should,but having fun while they are doing it.
      Bleeding the new bloods between Round 1-8,having full bloods from Round 10..for a full 80..
      I’l take a comeback win till then any day.
      As Digger said regards his Canes,they were yet to be tested.
      And then met the Chiefs.
      So too I wait for the Canes and chiefs and the testing of muscle,bone and marrow,resolve,discipline and self control,and who wants it the most for the full 80.
      The season is still far from over.
      With no International break to hinder or save.
      It be a long season.
      And my boys,we can’t be on the back foot the entire time.
      So come round 8.
      I expect a stand.
      Line drawn with the blood of fallen foes edged into stone with the sweaping swipe of your blade.
      No more.
      We take the crown.
      Putem to the Sword.

      Be blessed and have an awsum week fellow roarers.

      • March 19th 2017 @ 4:12pm
        Old Bugger said | March 19th 2017 @ 4:12pm | ! Report


        And good luck to the buggers but, here’s hoping the horse gets spooked and takes off, riderless…..haha!!

        Anyways, enough banter atm. I am seriously worried about the crew changes when they happen because in the past 3 matches, those buggers have come out and just turned their opponents, inside out.

        My secret wish – put 50pts on the board before the crew changes and, build a moat of defence, around the Saders new crew……then let’s see if they can swim out of that hole, with all that armour they’re wearing.

        Btw, a good win that didn’t look likely at HT……crew changes are a coach’s nightmare, I reckon – darn it!!

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 4:41pm
        Diggercane said | March 19th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

        Cheers Marius, have fun this week.

    • March 19th 2017 @ 2:34pm
      Worlds Biggest said | March 19th 2017 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

      Cheers Digs, boy the Tahs have to get the piggies right and Foley back asap. The Brums finished much stronger and dominated up front. Must win game for the Tahs against the Rebels.

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 4:43pm
        Diggercane said | March 19th 2017 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

        A must win for both WB.

        Do you see Foley as the ‘magic bullet’?