Five things we learned from Super Rugby Round 4

Nick Kelland Roar Guru

By Nick Kelland, Nick Kelland is a Roar Guru


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    The Super season is well in the swing of things, and with the conclusion of Round 4, there’s plenty to talk about.

    Here’s five things we learned from Round 4.

    1 – The Waratahs returned to their old ways
    Tahs supporters would’ve had their nightmares re-surface this morning. A late 2017-season esque performance against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires would’ve had many of the NSW Waratahs faithful shaking their heads in dismay.

    The turnovers, handling errors and lack of defensive intensity in the first 20 minutes had the Tahs behind by four tries. While the second half was slightly more fluent, they have plenty to answer for before their next game.

    Most alarming, perhaps, was their efforts at set piece. At scrum time, they were absolutely demolished by a rampant Jags pack. At the lineout, their efforts weren’t much better. With their next opponents, the Rebels, in serious nick, a much-improved performance is needed if they’re to reverse their fortunes.

    2 – Everything is not as it seems
    Yes, it’s early days – but this Super season seems vastly less predictable than last. The Blues, considered probably the worst team in the New Zealand conference, pulled a swift one on the red-hot Lions – running over the top of last year’s finalists at the death thanks to Akira and Rieko Ioane.

    The Bulls, who are one of the weaker sides in the SA conference, and who toppled the Hurricanes in week 2 – went down to the Reds at Suncorp Stadium.

    Brad Thorn’s men were clinical in the second half. Their scrum was immense, and they’ve found some fluency in attack with Jono Lance and Samu Kerevi steering things around.

    Look for value in the markets in the coming weeks as bookies try to come to terms with early season inconsistencies in results.

    Brad Thorn

    (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

    3 – The Hurricanes can attack, and attack from anywhere
    The Hurricanes vs Crusaders fixture was billed pre-round as the game of the week, and it didn’t disappoint.

    Early doors, the Hurricanes looked like they may run away with the game. Attacking even from deep in their own 22, they looked like a threat almost every time they touched the ball.

    Ben Lam went 80m to score, while TJ Perenara and Chris Eves added two more as the Canes ran out to a 21-0 lead in the first half. The Crusaders were stoic in the second half, but couldn’t overcome their slow start.

    The lesson for the defence coaches of the teams that play the Hurricanes each week, is that they can, and will, attack from anywhere, as they look to cement their status as the best team in Super Rugby.

    4 – The Brumbies sink further
    Last week, I spoke about the Brumbies not being serious contenders in the Australian conference. My prediction sounds correct in the context of their performance against the Rebels.

    They had numerous handling errors, and after the first ten minutes, were comfortably the wrong side of the penalty count.

    The attacking woes discussed last week were again evident, and they have gone missing in crucial minutes this season.

    Worse still, Sam Carter and Josh Mann-Rea both left the field under injury clouds.

    On the flip side, the Rebels grew in stature, and won their third straight game. Amanaki Mafi, Jack Maddocks and Michael Ruru all crossed once for the Rebels, while Wallabies utility Reece Hodge crossed twice, and kicked four conversions in a 33-10 drubbing of their Canberran counterparts.

    5 – Will Genia is very, very good
    It’s amazing what an impact a good halfback can have on the attacking fluency of a side. The All Blacks have been privileged to have Aaron Smith steering his side around for years, and the Wallabies have their own gem in Will Genia.

    His influence on the Rebels has been lauded in the first month of the competition by many rugby commentators, and he was instrumental again against the Brumbies.

    His flat pass to Reece Hodge in the face of two defenders was a touch of class. His service was inch-perfect, and he put his side over the gain line time and time again as they stormed to their third win on the trot.

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    The Crowd Says (83)

    • March 11th 2018 @ 3:25pm
      Fionn said | March 11th 2018 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

      I’d like to see the Arnold brothers starting in the second row. Pocock coming back soon.

      No need to panic…. yet.

      Genia is back to circa 2011-13 form, and it’s beautiful to see. What a player he is, and great to see him enjoying his rugby again.

      • March 11th 2018 @ 4:15pm
        Akari said | March 11th 2018 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

        Sorry Fionn but there is something seriously wrong with the forward pack and reinforcements (with the exception of Naisarani) as they are playing like a pack of rookies. As I see it, the problem starts with the front row. Fix it and pretty soon and the rest might perhaps rediscover their mojo when the Brumbies face the Sharks next week. From memory, the Sharks don’t play well during their 1st game on tour. I hope this is the case ofc or it’ll be a very, very long season ahead.

        • March 11th 2018 @ 4:19pm
          Fionn said | March 11th 2018 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

          You’re absolutely right, Akari.

          Still, no need to panic, in my opinion… yet…

          • March 11th 2018 @ 5:51pm
            Paul D said | March 11th 2018 @ 5:51pm | ! Report

            Save the panic for when you lose to the Tahs. 😉 I’m not looking forward to that pitiful display if I’m honest based on the quality displayed from both of them.

            • March 11th 2018 @ 9:27pm
              Akari said | March 11th 2018 @ 9:27pm | ! Report

              True indeed, Paul D

            • Roar Guru

              March 12th 2018 @ 9:37am
              PeterK said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

              IMO it is time to panic for the brumbies.

              It is quite probable that only 1 oz team will make the finals.

              I think it unlikely the brumbies will catch the rebels. They are 11 points behind the rebels.

              They are 4th in the conference.

              Losing Carter can be a bonus since it means 2 power locks start in the Arnold bros.
              Yes Pocock is a major bonus.
              The scrum will be better now that Sio is back from injury. Against the rebels the scrum went backwards when Alexander was on so the last 20 will remain a struggle.

              A major rework on the attack needs to be done. McKellar’s attacking patterns are worse than Larkham’s. The defence has also lost it’s intensity.

              • March 12th 2018 @ 11:50am
                MitchO said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

                The Rebels have a good forward pack – although the scrum unfortunately needs work – but the Brumbies had a ton of ball at the beginning. They just could do much with it and as the commentators pointed out the Rebels did much better getting over the gain line. The Brumbies did that Wallaby thing and flopped on it.

      • March 14th 2018 @ 9:18am
        Crash Ball2 said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        Is it just me or does LLF appear to be a bit at sea at the moment? Certainly he is doing the right things but the confidence and execution is still a few percent off (understandably).

        Also, I so wish the Ponies could find and invest in a back up Australian flyhalf. It’s not as if Hawera is Dan Carter. And each time he takes the field I can’t help but thinking, “there’s more valuable first class game time some young Aussie tyro isn’t getting”.

        • March 14th 2018 @ 4:58pm
          MitchO said | March 14th 2018 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

          Yeah it is a waste of a spot. It is not as if Hawera is training a young aussie either. At least Peter Grant at the Force and Geoff Parling at the Rebels can do some mentoring.

    • March 11th 2018 @ 3:51pm
      DavSA said | March 11th 2018 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

      Lions/Blues match was sensational. There are going to be lots of sore bodies this morning. Some of those collisions …phew. Is anyone going to beat the NZ sides in NZ this year. The Sharks maybe?

    • March 11th 2018 @ 3:55pm
      Mark said | March 11th 2018 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

      1. The New Laws are —
      2. The Blues are COMPLETE —
      3. Tana Umaga is making Nucifora look like a quality Coach

    • March 11th 2018 @ 4:37pm
      SteveB said | March 11th 2018 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

      Genia.. Here we go again. Wait til June and the real test, a Wallabies game. He and all the other entitled old guys will fold like deckchairs, as always. But by all means, enjoy the false dawn in SR as we do every year.

      • March 11th 2018 @ 5:15pm
        Fionn said | March 11th 2018 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

        Genia was one of the best, if not the very best, Wallabies in the Rugby Championship last year?

        • March 11th 2018 @ 9:38pm
          cinque said | March 11th 2018 @ 9:38pm | ! Report

          To be fair to Steve, he said JUNE. Last year, Genia was underwhelming in the 3 June tests.

          • Roar Guru

            March 12th 2018 @ 9:39am
            PeterK said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

            very true, he found it difficult transitioning from o/s club play. That won’t be the case this year.

            • March 15th 2018 @ 12:10am
              Rebellion said | March 15th 2018 @ 12:10am | ! Report

              Are you known as Malo on other posts? If not, you’ve certainly embraced your inner ‘Malo’
              Australian Rugby is on the floor and has been for some time. I think this is the year it can be afforded the ‘glass half-full’ perspective surely – at Super Rugby level at least.

              Once Chieka selects his fave blue boys duds, then you have my permission to stick the knife in. I’m talking about you Robertson, Hanigan, Phipps, Foley and Naiyarovoro

      • March 12th 2018 @ 1:42am
        ozinsa said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:42am | ! Report

        It might be fair to criticise the performances in June 2017 but you’re suggesting we’re always hopeless there and that strong SR form indicates we’d be good. I’d suggest if you’re looking at, say the last 20 years, you’re wrong on all counts.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 10:29am
        Jacko said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        I dont think I would write genia off yet…The guy has been a class act for 10 years and still looks the best half in the Aus conference. It is good to see a couple of young guys coming thru tho….Adding depth for next year maybe

    • March 11th 2018 @ 4:57pm
      Ex force fan said | March 11th 2018 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

      The first game between an Aussie and Kiwi team will be an eye opener. Australian teams are still far of the pace. We may need to drop another team of maybe three to have the “player depth” (sic) to compete……or we just need to give our coaches time to develop cohesion and combinations… 2018 will not be any Australian team’s year.

      • March 11th 2018 @ 8:34pm
        Bill said | March 11th 2018 @ 8:34pm | ! Report

        Next weekend Rebels v Tahs, then you’ll see a new low in Oz team’s performance.

      • Roar Guru

        March 12th 2018 @ 9:41am
        PeterK said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        I am sure a lot of senior figures with aust rugby , qld rugby and nsw rugby would be quite happy to devolve back to just nsw and qld and jettison Brumbies and Rebels.

        • March 14th 2018 @ 3:41pm
          Ex force fan said | March 14th 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

          Why would the teams not be centred around Sydney and Melbourne. The ARU has an obsession to have a team in Melbourne and is prepared to do ridiculous dumb things to achieve it.

    • March 11th 2018 @ 5:49pm
      krasnoff of noosa said | March 11th 2018 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

      Well, what have we learned. I tell you what we SHOULD have learned: True leadership prevails; Thorn leads by example—a tough man who expects the best from his men 24/7, no comprises. This is the man who could have his team lift the Bledisloe Cup in 2018. But no, we play the bureaucrats game and wax another year. All hail the Establishment!

      • March 11th 2018 @ 8:30pm
        Kane said | March 11th 2018 @ 8:30pm | ! Report

        Please tell me what Thorn has done to justify being appointed Wallabies coach in 2018?

        • March 11th 2018 @ 8:58pm
          Taylorman said | March 11th 2018 @ 8:58pm | ! Report

          Hmmm…he’s won 2/3s of all his Super rugby matches as head coach? Anyone else done that?😁

          • March 11th 2018 @ 9:12pm
            Kane said | March 11th 2018 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

            I believe Henry at the Blues 1996-98 won 32 from 39.

            I suspect there are several coaches that have won ⅔.

            Thorn may prove to be a great coach but it’s a little early to be talking about test footy isn’t it?

            • March 11th 2018 @ 9:24pm
              Taylorman said | March 11th 2018 @ 9:24pm | ! Report

              Yep (I wasn’t actually serious though) 😁

              • Roar Rookie

                March 12th 2018 @ 12:38am
                tsuru said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:38am | ! Report

                Lies, damn lies and statistics, eh T-man?

            • March 12th 2018 @ 8:40am
              Jerry said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:40am | ! Report

              Henry won 2/3 of Super Rugby titles in his stint with the Blues!

              • March 12th 2018 @ 9:08am
                richard said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:08am | ! Report

                1996/7. 2003.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 9:33am
                Jerry said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

                I didn’t count 2003 as he wasn’t head coach.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 3:22pm
                richard said | March 14th 2018 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

                Fair enough.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 14th 2018 @ 2:50pm
        Kirky said | March 14th 2018 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

        Krasnoff! Thorn is a Kiwi and although he’s spent a lot of years here in various forms of the game, ~ you can guarantee he won’t Coach any Wallaby team because of that, why do you think he went back home to play for the All Blacks,? and didn’t he play well!? He’ll jazz the Reds up as they need to be, but Thorney is a Rookie Coach and I would say he’s having a hell of a lot of fun!

        The Reds will respect him as he like all Kiwi Coaches demand it or you don’t play, simple! He’s a great guy and who knows in time he may make the All Blacks as Coach, stranger things have happened.

        Like Joe Schmidt, expect to see him back home after the next World Cup as I would imagine he’d be possibly the top contender for the All Blacks job, the Irish won’t suffer much at all, as they only need to get another Kiwi Coach to add to the other 20 or so already ‘up there’!