The Roar
The Roar


Big weekend of results consolidates Super contenders

The Crusaders take on the Lions in the Super Rugby final. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
27th May, 2018

Some weeks are moving weeks in Super Rugby, but this week was consolidation week. The Crusaders consolidated their spot on the top of the competition by handing the Hurricanes, the only other team challenging them for the overall lead, a lesson in wet weather rugby in Christchurch on Friday night.

The Lions further cemented their lead in the South African competition with a come-from-behind effort away against the Stormers.

After the blip drought-breaking loss by the Highlanders to the Waratahs last weekend, New Zealand teams reasserted their dominance over their Aussie counterparts, with the Chiefs and Highlanders enjoying respective wins over the Tahs and Reds, although both games were close-run affairs.

The Jaguares firmed their narrative as the best story to emerge from 2018, defeating the Sharks for their sixth win on the trot. Securing a bonus point with a try in the last act of the game.

The win solidifies the Argentines in the play-off realm in seventh spot, four points clear of the Melbourne Rebels, who were too good for the Sunwolves on Friday night, to round out the eight.

Brumbies fullback Tom Banks put together a very solid case for inclusion in the Wallabies squad that Michael Cheika will announce on Wednesday night with a brilliant man-of-the-match performance in the Canberra side’s win over the Bulls on the high veldt in the early hours of Sunday.

Finally, Highlanders mercurial outside back Richard ‘Barracuda’ Buckman has taken an unassailable lead in the best Honey Badger-like hairdo comp, sporting a set of locks that cascade all over the back of his head in a ‘westie waterfall’ that would make Nick Cummins proud.

Bautista Delguy

(Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images)


Crusaders vs Hurricanes
“Mate, when you’re neighbours with Antarctica you expect anything,” quipped Crusaders coach Scott Robertson in a cross during the top-of-the-table clash against the Canes at AMI Stadium.

The icy rain that pelted down for much of the match certainly did the cause of the growing lobby to build a stadium with a roof in Christchurch no harm.

Happily for Robertson, it was his injury-ravaged team who warmed to the conditions best to keep the visitors, who were unusually ill-disciplined and sloppy, at arm’s length for a convincing win.

The first half was all about the Barrett brothers.

At the first-quarter mark Canes outside centre Jordie Barrett did the opposite of what he usually does and cost his team dearly with a sequence of brain fades.

First was a late shoulder charge on fullback David Havili that incurred a penalty that enabled the Crusaders to relieve a lot of pressure with the visitors camped hard on their line.

Jordie followed this up with another penalty for a high grapple tackle on human dynamo George Bridge. From the resulting lineout just 10 metres out from the Hurricanes line Jordie’s brother, opposing lock Scott Barrett, won the ball and four phases later got it back into his hands to barge over for the Crusaders’ first try of the match and the only try of the half and converted to give them a 7-0 lead.


Two acts of ill-discipline that turned a position of great promise at one end of the field to a try against them at the other.

Three minutes later the tables turned when Jordie partially redeemed himself by banging over a magnificent penalty from halfway following a lineout indiscretion from, you guessed it, brother Scott.

And lest we forget Beauden Barrett, largely outplayed by his opposite Richie Mo’Unga, who knocked over a penalty of his own in the 37th minute to have the Crusaders leading 7-6 at the break, the Barretts having scored 11 of the 13 points.

Beauden Barrett

(Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The Crusaders came out of the sheds for the second half with a head of steam and only the desperate defence of unwanted All Black wing Julian Savea stopped Havili from scoring their second try seven minutes into the resumption.

However, continued Canes sloppiness, especially at lineout time, cost them any chance to exert pressure, especially in the face of some crushing defence from the Jack Goodhue, who looks every inch an All Black midfielder these days.

The contest was wrapped up by the home side when reconstituted number eight Heiden Bedwell-Curtis crashed over for a five-pointer following a smart blindside run off the base of the scrum to have his team 24-6 with 15 to go.


Replacement loosie Reed Princep gave the visitors some hope when he took a lovely inside pop from Ardie Savea to set off on a 25-metre run that beat three defenders for a try in the 71st minute.

But the Crusaders, even without captain Sam Whitelock, backline general Ryan Crotty, newly-minted All Black Jordan Taufua and suspended props Joe Moody and Ben Franks, managed to pull down the shutters to retain their 24-13 lead until full-time to break the Canes 10-match winning streak.

Manasa Mataele

(Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Chiefs vs Waratahs
Two words were the difference between the Chiefs and the Waratahs in a helter-skelter encounter in Hamilton on Saturday: Brodie Retallick.

The giant All Black lock put in yet another stupendous shift of barging ball carries, tireless defence, ruck smashing, try scoring and lineout ball winning. But it was two clutch turnovers that proved monumental in a frenetic, at times breath-taking encounter. More on those later.

The Tahs were at their clinical best to streak out to a 14-point lead courtesy of two perfectly executed set-piece tries in the opening minutes.

The first was from a scrum in the fifth minute where the ball was sent crisply from left to right in a slickly simple backline move that deployed Kurtley Beale as a decoy for Cam Clark to score a converted try.


Eight minutes later Clark was the decoy overs runner from a Tahs lineout where outside centre Curtis Rona was fed a nice flat ball from Beale, from where he stepped defenders to power over for another eventual seven-pointer to give him extra cause for celebration on his 26th birthday.

That capped off a dominant opening 15 minutes for the visitors.

Curtis Rona

(Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

However, in a match of swinging momentum, the pendulum lurched the Chiefs way four minutes later when they showed great patience through ten phases for Damian McKenzie to eventually lay on a pop pass for that man Retallick, who ran a great line to be in under the posts.

The score seemed to spark both the Chiefs attack and defence into action. Some sloppy Tahs ruck work and the finely attuned skills of Liam Messam in contact had robust hooker Nathan Harris over for the Chiefs’ second try in the 29th minute.

The first of the aforementioned Retallick turnovers occurred a couple of minutes later when he legally got his big mitts over Tahs’ ball to win his team a penalty. From the lineout home team skipper Charles Ngatai took the overthrow to hare off on a typical line-breaking run.

From the next phase centre Anton-Lienert Brown gave an excellent offload to his right wing Toni Pulu, who gassed past defenders to give it to McKenzie. The little five-eighth did a triple roll to get the ball over the line despite the best efforts of Israel Folau to hold him up.


Their 19 unanswered points were enough to give the Chiefs a five-point buffer at the break.

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The match continued its swingeing nature in the second. A Bernard Foley penalty was replied to when Ngatai’s second lineout ‘take’ eventually led to a well-taken Pulu try. This was soon followed by a brilliant try from Beale who picked up a bounce pass to scoot over following a good Tahs lineout drive. Foley added the extras to lock it all up 24-all after 52 minutes.

The tit for tat carried on when Pulu showed his pace to latch on to a Brad Weber box kick to cross for his second. McKenzie’s conversion attempt was his third to hit the uprights.

Foley got his team within two points via a penalty, but McKenzie restored the lead to five with five to go.

Folau set up a grandstand finish when he did his trademark Salmon leap to reclaim the ball from the next kick for a Tahs assault deep into Chiefs territory.

But the raid was nipped in the bud when you know who managed to get his 2.06-metre frame over Tahs ball in a ruck to win the Chiefs a vital, pressure-relieving penalty.


It seemed so unfair that Beale, who had been outstanding all game with a try and two assists, should for the one to knock it on as the Tahs desperately attempted to run it out from their own quarter with a minute to go.

Then McKenzie rammed salt into the wound from the resulting scrum when, instead of kicking it out when the hooter sounded, he scooted past two tired defenders to score his second try. A score that won his team an extra bonus point and denied the Tahs their losing one, which was the least they deserved.

So a weekend of consolidation but plenty of movement sure to come.