Monday’s Rugby News recaps the round that was in the Super Rugby, wraps up the various competitions around the country, examines the performances of the men’s Sevens team along with the exhilarating finish to the English Premiership featuring a couple of Aussies.
Round 16 Super Rugby recap
Auckland hosted the Bulls to start off round 16 in what could only be described as atrocious conditions. Neither team were able to control the ball and find a way to win this match, with the match ending in a 22 all draw after Blues flyhalf Harry Plummer missed the 82nd-minute penalty goal that would have secured the victory for the Blues.
In the other Friday match, the Waratahs would hold on for a 20-15 against the Rebels in Melbourne. The result maintains the ‘Tahs slim finals hopes, whilst the Rebels need to pull off a huge victory over either the Crusaders or Chiefs and hope for favourable results if they wish to feature. For a more in-depth recap, check out 22Metri’s excellent review of the game.
To start off Saturday, the Brumbies recorded a 42-19 win over a spirited Sunwolves to secure top spot in the Australian Conference. The scoreline did not reflect the close nature of this match, with a better representation of the encounter coming via Steve’s report on the match.
In the surprise of the round, the Chiefs upset the Crusaders 40-27 in front of a spirited crowd in Suva, Fiji. After trailing by 20 points, the Chiefs, led by Aussie Jack Debreczeni, would score 27 unanswered points to keep their finals hopes alive and hand the Crusaders just their 2nd loss of the season.
At Suncorp Stadium, the Reds’ finals aspirations were effectively crushed, defeated by a clinical Los Pumas, I mean Jaguares, side 34-23. The win maintains their spot on the top of the South African Conference, and their class throughout the victory is best expressed by Reg during his review of the match.
In Durban, the Hurricanes would show their class, defeating the Sharks 30-17 in a feisty contest that saw the visitors finish with 14 men. The ‘Canes continue to fly under the radar of many experts, who would be sitting 2nd in the old format, securing the victory on the back of a superhuman performance from Ardie Savea.
In the final match of the round, the Lions would bounce back from their loss to the Sharks with a 41-22 win over the Stormers. The Lions were impressive despite missing stalwart Elton Jantjies, who was suspended for breaching team protocol, blowing the Stormers away in the second half to maintain their place in the top 8.
Premier/Rapid rugby results
We start off in Perth, where the Western Force dominated a gallant Kagifa Samoa 63-5. The Force put on a show in front of a sizeable crowd, which was 12,467, running in 9 straight tries to assert their dominance in the Global Rapid Rugby Showcase Series. With all the unique rules that the competition have thrown up, the Samoans seemed to include one of own in the form of the old backyard classic, last try wins, saving their best efforts until last to score one of the best tries that you will see this year (seriously, check it out).
Whilst where in WA, round 9 of the Fortescue Premier had Bayswater beat Curtin 37-8, Cottesloe defeat Associates 37-0, Palmyra holding off UWA 34-19, Wanneroo being too strong for Coastal 24-15, Wests scraping home over Joondalup 42-40, ARKs outclassing Southern Lions 38-26 and Nedlands showing their class to defeat Kalamunda 43-20.
In Queensland, round 10 of the Hospital Cup saw Wests dominate struggling Norths 54-13, Brothers outgun Bond 35-26, Easts defeated Uni 27-17 to continue Uni’s poor start to the season and Souths overcame Wests 47-28.
In NSW, the Shute Shield continued to throw up thrilling encounters during round 9. Warringah would beat Eastwood 21-19 after a late Hamish Angus sideline conversion after the bell, Randwick molly whopped Western Sydney 50-12, Gordon upset Easts 42-22 in Orange, Manly held off West Harbour 24-19 and finally Norths overcome Souths 35-28 after trailing 28-7 during the second half (largely thanks to the likes of Will Miller and Andrew Tuala backing up from the Waratahs match the night before, great to see).
Round 9 (and Indigenous Round) of the John I Dent Cup saw Royals outclass Gungahlin 37-32 in a thrilling top of the table clash, Vikings dominate Wests 49-21 and Queanbeyan hang on for a 34-26 win over Easts.
In Round 6 of the Dewer Shield in Victoria, Melbourne Uni beat Powerhouse 41-17, Box Hill trampled Endeavour Hills 54-22, Melbourne asserted their claims for the shield with a convincing 48-19 win over Harlequins whilst Moorabbin outclassed Footscray 41-31.
Finally, round 6 of the Coopers Premier saw Adelaide Uni win their first match, defeating Woodville 43-0, Onkaparinga outplayed Port Adelaide to win 35-15, Old Collegians beat Southern Suburbs 50-31, Brighton thumped Barossa 131-0 whilst Burnside held on for a 151-0 win over Elizabeth.
Sevens fail to fire
The Australian men’s sevens side has capped off their 2018-2019 with a lacklustre semi-final loss to Ireland in the Challenge Trophy.
The result caps off a disappointing year for the side, whose lone appearance in the Cup final coming at the London Sevens in the previous week.
The side started off with a sluggish draw to Kenya, a far cry from their impressive showing in London, which saw the scoreline locked at 19 all after Matt Hood crossed right before the siren, with Lewis Holland failing to convert to secure the win.
They would then be shellshocked by Wales 24-7, a side who was fighting to maintain their core team status for the 2019-2020 season, gifting the Welsh their first win over the Australians in fourteen attempts.
The final match of the day saw them take on the juggernaut that is the reigning Paris sevens champion Blitzboks, with the side falling just short 19-17, after allowing the South Africans to score twice in the first three minutes.
This would relegate the Aussies to the Challenge Trophy, in which they would first face Spain on Day 2, in which they dominated to run in eight tries to cruise to victory 54-0.
Unfortunately, the Aussies couldn’t back up this performance in the semifinals, failing to capitalise on an early 10-0 lead to fall 24-17 to a spirited Irish outfit.
The result will leave the side to finish in 7th position for the year, which will fail to secure automatic qualification for the 2020 Toyko Olympics, ensuring that they will have to travel to Suva in late November if they wish to qualify.
Saracens claim thrilling double
Saracens have pulled off their second domestic and European double in three years, completing a remarkable comeback to defeat Exeter 37-34 at Twickenham.
Exeter got off to a flying start, with Aussie Nic White finding the line after just 27 seconds, before tries to Dave Ewers, Jonny Hill and Henry Slade put the Chiefs up 27-16.
However, Saracens class was too much in the end, with tries by Liam Williams, Sean Maitland and George gifting Sarries the win and their fourth title in five years.
The comeback marks the first time that a side has overcome a deficit of more than 6 in a Premiership final, with Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall praising the high quality of rugby played by both sides.
“It was as close to a Test match as you will get,” said Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall.
“It was fast, furious and no backwards step taken by any of the guys. They are such a fantastically brave and courageous bunch of lads who just don’t know when to stop giving everything,” the former Ireland centre added.
Exeter’s director of rugby Rob Baxter was full of praise for his men, praising their efforts along with giving credit to Saracens for their consistent performance over the 80 minutes.
“We have come second to an incredible side and I could not have asked for more from the players,” said Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter.
“We controlled the first half and could have been further ahead. But against Saracens, you have to do it for 80 minutes and keep them down because they have the potential to come back from a deficit and they find a way of winning.”
When quizzed about whether this win cemented Saracens side as the best of the generation, Baxter had no hesitation stating “They probably are. Their record speaks for itself,” he said.
“They’re winning Premierships, they’re winning European cups, but it feels to me like we’re probably disappointed that we haven’t beaten them today, so that bodes well for where Exeter Chiefs stand as well.”