Seven talking points from Super Rugby Round 13

Oliver Matthews Roar Guru

By Oliver Matthews, Oliver Matthews is a Roar Guru


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    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (61)

    • May 13th 2018 @ 9:34am
      MH01 said | May 13th 2018 @ 9:34am | ! Report

      RA also needs to remember that the game is bigger than identify agenda politics . How about we focus on the sport .

      Leave Izzy alone – and get on with the game .

      • May 13th 2018 @ 9:52am
        Scottd said | May 13th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        Agreed. But for that to happen Izzy needs to shut up and focus on sports

        • May 13th 2018 @ 12:05pm
          Mark said | May 13th 2018 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

          Is he not allowed to have a private life and free mind?

          • May 13th 2018 @ 12:31pm
            Dave_S said | May 13th 2018 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

            I think that’s what people are hoping for – that he thinks for himself rather than spouting Old Testament prejudices and that he keeps his nastier “thoughts” to himself rather than preaching them through social media.

            • May 13th 2018 @ 1:26pm
              Simoc said | May 13th 2018 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

              I thought some brainless fool trolled him and he reacted to quickly, then withdrew it. However that was enough to give the low life nearly a month of being the sanctimonius fools in the media that we have seen. Such vacant lives these dregs have.

              • May 13th 2018 @ 9:33pm
                Brian George said | May 13th 2018 @ 9:33pm | ! Report

                And more recently reposted said “beliefs” again. Sheesh, if he wants out of rugby just say so instead of antagonizing RA until they punt him.

          • May 13th 2018 @ 1:31pm
            woodart said | May 13th 2018 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

            we all should have a private life and a free mind, but to constantly on world wide media, blurt out statements that you know ,will upset and disgust many, go;s beyond free speech, and descends into hate speech….no ifs, no buts. when you were a little boy, your mother probably told you,” if you dont have something good to say about somebody, say nothing”

      • May 14th 2018 @ 11:43pm
        Ex force fan said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:43pm | ! Report

        But is the game bigger than Cameron Clyne? I love it that the biggest and sexond biggest crowds this year were in Perth. You made a mistake a big one, picking the wrong horse to back. Why is Clyne still there?

    • May 13th 2018 @ 9:50am
      Andy said | May 13th 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

      How about Izzy focuses on rugby and not villyfying sections of the community then? Works both ways doesn’t it?

      • May 13th 2018 @ 10:12am
        Jacko said | May 13th 2018 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        Yes it works both ways…So sections of the community need to stop villifying Issy and let him focus on rugby……

        • May 13th 2018 @ 10:50am
          Andy said | May 13th 2018 @ 10:50am | ! Report

          Take your eye patch off

          • May 13th 2018 @ 11:04am
            Jacko said | May 13th 2018 @ 11:04am | ! Report

            yeah coz being a 1 eyed Chiefs supporter will automattically make me a big Issy fan eh Andy…..perhaps your patch should of only had 1 side covered up and not left you totally blind to reality

            • May 13th 2018 @ 11:48am
              Andy said | May 13th 2018 @ 11:48am | ! Report

              Ok jacko is his the chiefs fan and what’s the relevance. Here I’ll make it very simple if you want Israel’s rugby to be the only think discussed he should stop making divisive comments on social media end of story.

              • May 13th 2018 @ 4:50pm
                Jacko said | May 13th 2018 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

                Well Andy lets make it simple for you shall we…Stop reacting to IFs comments and he gets no attention….
                I guess you are one of these people who believe inclusive doesnt mean including all……Just the ones you want included eh?

              • May 13th 2018 @ 9:34pm
                Brian George said | May 13th 2018 @ 9:34pm | ! Report

                Off your meds again Jacko?

              • May 14th 2018 @ 9:04am
                Jacko said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

                Oh of course Brian….Anyone who allows freedom of speech is off their meds…All you who want to allow sports stars to only comment on things YOU AGREE WITH is on their meds eh?

    • May 13th 2018 @ 9:52am
      TUTEMA said | May 13th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      Regarding the future of the competition you should have probably pointed out that the SA conference is on fire.

      Lions at the top with 31 points, Jaguares, Sharks and Bulls tied in 24 and Stormers 23.

      The competition is really appealing…

      Unfortunately, there is something going on with Oz’s teams that is just not clicking.

      I don’t know if it is a self steam issue or self believe, but Australian Rugby should become once again an inspiration!!!

      • May 13th 2018 @ 11:26am
        AM_Bokke said | May 13th 2018 @ 11:26am | ! Report

        Yeah, once the lucky calls aren’t so lopsided in favor of NZ teams the competition will be really quite good. NZ will still have the best player base because they are the best organized union, but Super Rugby will improve.

      • May 13th 2018 @ 1:33pm
        woodart said | May 13th 2018 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

        yes, many very good players in sth africa, and if they can get there sh*t together, springboks versus All Blacks will be crackers

    • May 13th 2018 @ 10:03am
      Lol said | May 13th 2018 @ 10:03am | ! Report

      McKellar and Hewitt at brumbies are clueless.
      How do these blokes get jobs
      Excellent list of players but woeful direction.
      Rubbish coach brings rubbish performance.
      Hence why they are 2nd last on table.
      Fall on your sword McKellar – you said you want to be career coach well do your career and brumbies supporters and players a favour and leave, take Hewitt with ya!

      • May 13th 2018 @ 11:18am
        Tragic said | May 13th 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report

        Agree Australian sides haven’t bounced back with the Force, out. The new super rugby format has been detrimental for Australian rugby. By playing Kiwi sides more we were able to compete better but now with conferences its a shambles.

        • May 13th 2018 @ 12:04pm
          cinque said | May 13th 2018 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

          We still play plenty of Kiwi sides. Difference this year is most of those matches happen in the second half of the comp.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 1:06am
          Ex force fan said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:06am | ! Report

          Spot-on the other franchises did not get better after the Force was kicked out and neither did the savings realise. Even Raelene think the benefits of axing the Force is still a couple of years away right at the end of Superugby. However the impact of WA Rugby is real as rugby took a big the more than 19,500 and more than 16,000 that attended the Fiji and Tongan games are proof that WA has a vibrant rugby community that did not deserve the dismissive and disrespectful behaviour we received from Clyne, Pulver and Eales and their clown in 2017/18. Twiggy’s WSR looks like a great alternative to Superugby and is fun to watch.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 1:39pm
            ajg said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

            I agree, the axeing of the Force has effectively cut the country in half. Why should anyone in WA be interested in the Wallabies?

            And when there are big crowds for the Force and the Brumbies cant even pull in 10k shows you that those who make decisions had their head up their arses.

            I reckon super rugby in this country is dead, they just dont know it yet

    • Roar Rookie

      May 13th 2018 @ 11:47am
      Paul D said | May 13th 2018 @ 11:47am | ! Report

      Really gutted by the Crusaders game. From minute 1 to minute 80 there was no love from the ref. Moody should be rubbed out for 2 months.

      None of that matters though. The Tahs showed a lot of firepower at the start and a lot of heart when men down. The impact of the loss wont affect the season in total, i still expect the Tahs will top the Aussie conference now. Not something i expected at the start of the year. So if they want to show they can play for 80 minutes and overcome unfortunate situations when the rub of the green is against you, there will be time to prove a point. Lessons learned and what they showed should give them alot of confidence. I hope they come out and destroy the Highlanders next week.

      The scrum still needs fixing, but it wasn’t a terrible effort against the best in the comp. And the picking on Foley for the missed penalties is over the top. He is by far the best kicker in Aus and one if the best in the whole comp, but some still want to crucify him the moment he misses. Those kicks were on the limit of his range so he had to try too hard to make the distance. Perhaps Beale should have made the attempts. Tahs need someone with more range to go to in those moments.

      • Roar Guru

        May 13th 2018 @ 12:24pm
        rebel said | May 13th 2018 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

        From minute 1 to minute 80? Drop the word ‘from’ from that sentence and add in Moody, then it makes sense.

      • May 13th 2018 @ 5:11pm
        KiwiHaydn said | May 13th 2018 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

        “I hope they come out and destroy the Highlanders next week.”

        Surely they will just be looking for a win, won’t they? Maybe the fans need to be a bit more realistic after giving up a 29-0 loss to the Lions at home, losing to NZs bottom placed team at home, then giving up a 29 point headstart, in their last three outings?

      • May 13th 2018 @ 7:36pm
        ThugbyFan said | May 13th 2018 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

        Well said Paul, As a Tah’s fan I have been amazed at their improvement from the rudderless disheartened rabble of last year. I would say a lot of that can be credited to shunting Natham Gray and bringing in Chris Malone and Simon Cron into the coaching set-up. However the Tahs need starch in the forwards if they want to play with the big boys and be a consistent threat. I was at the match the last time the Mighty Tahs belted them Crusaders, twas a sunny Sydney afternoon in 2015 where big Willie, Sekope and Cliffie belted the tripe out of their forwards. More of that please!

        The Tahs really need a tall quality lock, they tried but Tom Staniforth doesn’t cut it. Perhaps the money box was empty but it sure would not have hurt to whisper in Matt Philip’s ear that he was almost guaranteed a starter spot at the Tahs. They also need a better LH prop. Tom Robertson should start learning lineout throws and the dark art of hooking.

        Another surprise for me has been Ned Hanigan, too light to be an effective lock but the bloke has tonnes of heart, an 80 minute player tackling everything and holding the lineout. Last year I bagged him as a WB blindside but his form this year likely guarantees him in the WB 23 as a #6 and emergency lock. A tall and heavier lock with Ned back to #6 would vastly improve the side against the teams packing 8 behemoths.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 12:14pm
          Phil said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          Agree about Hanigan,TF.All the people who said he would be ruined by Cheika selecting him before he was ready were just plain wrong.It’s just unfortunate he is not a bit heavier,but you cannot question his performances this year as probably the most consistent Tahs forward,Hooper included.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 12:46pm
            Bakkies said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

            He will fill out. People said the same thing early on in Elsom’s career that he lacked muscle.

      • May 13th 2018 @ 7:39pm
        ThugbyFan said | May 13th 2018 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

        As for the Highlander’s game, it will be a miracle! Too many Tahs wounded or feeling very very sore after the Crusaders match and I think the ‘Landers will have noted and be well prepared for the blitzkreig start from the Tahs.

        Even so, Go the TAhhhhssssssssss. 🙂

    • May 13th 2018 @ 12:00pm
      Malo said | May 13th 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

      Yeah Hurricanes vs Crusaders final.

      • Roar Guru

        May 13th 2018 @ 4:56pm
        Machpants said | May 13th 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

        Except, unless NZ loses the top and fourth position on the ladder, they’ll play in the semis if they win their quarters

        • May 13th 2018 @ 5:05pm
          KiwiHaydn said | May 13th 2018 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

          But the Canes and Crusaders are currently 1st and 2nd on points. After the quarters start, Conferences don’t matter do they?

          • May 14th 2018 @ 1:42pm
            ajg said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

            The fact that we have to ask that question shows how silly this comp is. It should just be one division. All vs all to properly work out who is best.