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Seven talking points from Super Rugby Round 13

Lomano Lava Lemeki of the Sunwolves. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images for Sunwolves)
Roar Guru
13th May, 2018
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3736 Reads

Now that was a belter of a weekend of rugby – some incredible games that had fans on the edge of their seat.

Amazing come backs, incredible cricket score victories and tense finishes. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot to talk about…

Will the real Sunwolves please stand up
That was an incredible performance by the Sunwolves. At the 20 minute mark, it was 12-14 to the Reds.

In the next 60 minutes, they scored over 50 points and conceded just 14 in a fantastic performance of complete rugby. They scored tries from all over the field and even when well ahead they took three-pointers when on offer, just to make sure they kept that scoreboard ticking over in their favour.

Every time the Reds checked the gap just got bigger and bigger.

In the remaining six rounds of the regular season, the Sunwolves could well pick up three or even four wins if they can play like they did this weekend. Teams like the Brumbies, Rebels, Reds (again) and the Stormers will all look at this game’s highlight reel and be more than a little bit scared about their clash with the Sunwolves in the coming weeks.

Steve Hansen smiles while Tana Umaga cries
Yes, the Blues lost against the Canes in the opening game of the weekend, but among the frustrations of another loss for Blues fans against Kiwi opposition, there were the rays of light shining off of SBW’s massive biceps.

He ran good lines and his offloading game was as effective as ever – his set up of the Blues’ first try was SBW at his best. He ran a great line to take the first pass, slide past the first defender and then drew three more as he powered into a gap and just as the defenders thought they had him, he popped the ball to Orbyn Leger who stepped over the line to score.

It’s too late for the Blues really for SBW and that is frustrating for Umaga but it’s good news for All Blacks fans – a rampaging SBW will be the perfect weapon to stop French centre Mathieu Bastareaud from having things his own way in the upcoming internationals.

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Shall we just play the Crusaders v Hurricanes Final now and get it over with?
Yes, there is still plenty of rugby left to go in the regular season and of course, once you get into knockout rugby then anything can happen. But The Canes and Crusaders are so far ahead of all the other teams in the competition it’s hard to see why we shouldn’t just let these two teams play off now for the title.

The Crusaders comeback against the Waratahs was impressive. It was almost as if they were giving themselves some worst-case scenario training – “how will we react if we’re 29 – 0 down with just 45 minutes left to play?” Well, apparently they will react quite nicely.

Is there anyone who can stop these two?

Bryn Hall

(Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)

Will someone please fix the scrum?
At one point in the Brumbies v Rebel game the ref had to reset a scrum four times and each time the teams took an insane amount of time to get ready to go again. What’s more alarming is that at the time the Brumbies were desperately trying to turn a heap load of possession and territory into points.

They should have been up and set for the next scrum in seconds, eager to get on with the game and score. Instead over five minutes of the game was wasted and the Brumbies momentum was numbed.

Scrums are a dark art but that doesn’t mean that refs have to let the teams take a break between every single reset. They’ve got to get some urgency into them otherwise we’ll see more and more precious minutes of rugby disappearing.

Another week, another Aussie disaster
The Tahs were awesome against the Crusaders for about 30 minutes. They were unstoppable and looked like they might run up a half-century against them. And then they lost.

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The Reds were awful against the Sunwolves and got an absolute spanking.

The Brumbies struggled again in so many aspects of the game and the only reason why the Australian conference notched up a win this weekend is that the Brumbies were playing the Rebels.

Yes, there are some injuries impacting top players like Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty and David Pocock but there is so little depth in Australian rugby that the replacements are just not good enough. The gap for example between Genia and Michael Ruru at the Rebels is vast.

What’s more, the coaching at clubs like the Brumbies and Reds is coming under serious question. Brad Thorn’s insistence to not use talent like Karmichael Hunt and Quade Cooper was interesting to begin with, but now is smacking of a naive stubbornness that is costing the Reds.

Which raises the next question….

What is the future of Super Rugby?
Last year there was a big restructure that aimed to increase the competitive nature of the competition and attract more fans with better quality rugby.

2018 so far has seen some great rugby but too often it’s being played by the Kiwi sides who yet again are dominating the competition. How much longer can this continue?

Yes, there are some good stories this season such as the massive improvement of the Jaguares, but that’s not enough to make the overall business viable. There is so much talent across the competition and seeing these players go head to head week after week is great, but it does feel like the whole thing could be done better.

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Tahs need Israel Folau more than Folau needs the Tahs
There’s been a lot of debate this week about Folau’s choice of social media content. Irrespective of where you fall on that topic it’s hard to argue the guy’s talent with a rugby ball in his hands.

Israel Folau

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

He was special against the Crusaders and seemed to be able to slice through the competition leaders at will. He is the Tahs’ single biggest weapon and all their hopes rest on his shoulders. Yes, his defensive reading of the game isn’t as good as other fullbacks, but Folau makes anyone’s world team right now.

I actually wrote this week that Rugby Australia need to remember that the game is bigger than any one player and that Folau is not going to be the difference between the Wallabies winning and losing the World Cup.

However, he might well be the difference between the Tahs going deep into the Super Rugby finals or not so it’ll be interesting to see how the next few days/weeks play out.