It wasn’t a dream – Super Rugby is definitely back and an exciting Round 2 saw some cracking games and some surprising results in many instances.
Fans have now got to see every team play at least once and while it’s still a bit early to perhaps make too many predictions for the back end of the season, there is plenty to talk about.
So without any more delays, let’s get stuck in…
Uh oh – the Crusaders are at it again
As mentioned in the opening of this article, it’s obviously too early to predict who is going to be in the Grand Final later in the year – or perhaps that should be: it’s too early to predict who is going to be in the Final with the Crusaders.
Yes, we’re only two rounds in but oh my the men in red and black are looking good.
No one would argue that the Hurricanes are a really good side and yet 47 minutes into their game against the Crusaders they were 31-0 down and being torn to shreds.
The intensity with which they played took the Canes by surprise and the clinical nature in which they made everything count was brutal.
When you then add in the Manasa Mataele offload (and the phrase offload really doesn’t do that miracle justice) then you really do have to wonder who on earth is going to stop the Crusaders picking up yet another title.
On behalf of all those who do not want to see Scott Robertson pop a hip with another disco dance, will someone please figure out how to beat these guys!
The Reds might just have something this year
Yes the Reds lost against the Highlanders this week, but there was plenty in that loss to give fans hope.
The centres of Jordan Petaia and Samu Kerevi could become seriously dangerous as both players have hit the ground running.
If they can keep building their partnership then they will give a lot defence coaches sleepless nights this year.
Their set piece was also very impressive. The scrums were solid and put the Highlanders under real pressure and the line out caused all sorts of trouble for the Kiwis.
Last season was a tough one for the Reds in many ways on and off the field. But if the men from Queensland can maintain and improve this level of performance then they could do well this year.
They still have some inexperience in the crucial halves positions that could mean they don’t threaten the Finals this year but the Reds shouldn’t be thought of as an easy win even when they come to your place.[related_category category=”rugby-union”]
A week is a long time in Super Rugby – just ask Brumbies fans
So last week I predicted that it was going to be a tough season for the Brumbies – their first-round loss to the Rebels showed some issues with both their backs in attack and the whole team in defence.
However this week the Brumbies of 2019 brought back that feeling from the golden years where Canberra was all conquering.
They made the Chiefs look like a very poor side. Not only that, but once they got ahead, the Brumbies didn’t ease up but just kept hammering at the Kiwis until the ref finally stopped the fight.
With 10 minutes to go the game was all over but that didn’t stop the Brumbies running in two more, hard-earned tries to turn the score from one-sided to cricket-esque.
Not only did they punish the Chiefs, they also forced rugby writers all over to strike out any future stories about how long will it be until an Aussie side beats a Kiwi side.
Yes the Chiefs were poor but the Brumbies didn’t just win – they humiliated them.
There were great performances all over the park but the one who stood out the most was Christian Lealiifano. He was fantastic and directed the home side around like a general.
If he can continue in that sort of form and the Brumbies can get David Pocock back soon then the Australian Conference title is well within their reach.
Speaking of the battle for the Aussie Conference…
The Tahs attitude seems off
Yes it’s only Round 2 but so far the Tahs have thrown away a win at home against the Canes in Round 1 and then managed to beat the Sunwolves by only 1 point this week.
That’s not a good start especially when the team is full of Wallabies including some of their most important players.
We could look at how the Tahs tactics failed them but the thing that stood out most to me was the blase attitude the Tahs took to the game.
In the early stages when they were scoring tries relatively easily, trying scoring players didn’t celebrate at all and their teammates didn’t really congratulate them.
It was as if they were assuming they’d score and win so no need to be excited. You might say “well it is only the Sunwolves” but remember two things:
The Sunwolves almost won.
That underlying attitude could be harder to get rid of then people think.
The Tahs have some real talent in their side but they don’t seem to have that same desire as say, the Brumbies or Reds. It’ll be interesting to see what happens over the coming weeks to the men in sky blue.
Topsy turvy Lions
Last week the Lions went to South America and picked up an important win on the road against the Jags. Yes the Jags played like headless… well, jaguars… but a win on the road is always a good thing and the men from South Africa looked good.
This week they got off to a great start and it looked like it was going to be two from two especially when you consider that the Stormers had lost by over 35 points last week – how much resistance could they possibly put up?
The Lions then sort of switched off and after that good start it felt like they almost expected the victory to flow from there. Unfortunately for them the Stormers had other ideas. They never gave up and managed to sneak a win with a score after the final whistle.
Yet again, it’s early in the season but the Lions will know that they let this one slip and that they were not really outplayed but out “hearted” (yes, I know – that is definitely not a word).
Silly penalties allowed the Stormers to get their way back in the game and then they fought hard to earn the win.
One of the things that separates the best sides – see Crusaders above! – from the other good sides is that they don’t take other sides for granted.
The Lions are a good side but they need to become ruthless if they want to topple the very best from their place on the throne.
Fearing for the Blues
Last week we spoke about how the Blues might have lost but there were definite positives. Well this week they lost and there were not definite positives.
They played poorly against the Sharks and there was real confusion in the game plan and execution.
The Sharks have started well this season for sure but the Blues made it far too easy for the home side and the Auckland team are going to have bounce back quickly on this road trip.
They’ve got a tough travel schedule – they play in Argentina next weekend – but they have to be better on the road.
Yes it’s all about the conference first and foremost but wins overseas build confidence and momentum.
If the Blues return home with demoralising losses on their record then the other Kiwi sides will sense blood in the water and kill off their playoff hopes before the season has really got up and running.