Yep, it’s Tuesday again. It’s starting to roll around fast hey? Another week gone, another round under our belt and another top 5 for your enjoyment (yes, I know that ‘enjoyment’ may be pushing it a little too far). But for whatever reason you’re reading this … here’s the Tuesday Top 5.
Super Rugby AU wrap
This weekend we finally saw a successful conclusion to a Super Time, and it still felt like a letdown. The last time we had a game tied after 80, when the Reds and Rebels slugged it out, Super Time as a bid ole snooze-fest with nothing but kicking and people were asking what the point was. Well this time Super Time lasted a matter of minutes before the Rebels scored and people were again asking what the point was, the thinking being if we were going to get extra time then we should get to see them play more than a couple of minutes worth. But a fumbled kick-off was all it took for the rebels to shove their way to the line and take the win. I agree with others who felt that a team who had tied at 80 minutes deserved to get more than a single losing bonus point, when in the past it would have been 2 points for a tie.
The other game was just as tight as once again the Brumbies stole a win after the siren. As a Brumbies fan I love that they have chased the win right till the end, and it has paid off for them twice this season. The Reds showed us how threatening they can be on attack, especially when they quickly spread the ball to the wings. The Brumbies didn’t look as comfortable with ball in hand this week, often going backwards when in attack. Both teams still have things to work on and the return match could be an absolute cracker.
An abridged look at the numbers
In fact, the Reds and the Brumbies are very closely matched. I didn’t realise just how close until I had another look at the stats for all teams for the Super Rugby AU season so far.
|Tries||Metres||Carries||Clean Breaks||Defenders Beaten||Offloads||Passes||Turnovers Won||Turnovers Conceded|
There really isn’t that much to split the teams, and in all bar 2 of those categories they are the top 2 teams (turnovers won and turnovers conceded are both topped by the Force). Both have very similar attacking stats which is interesting considering on the surface it looks as though they have very different styles of play. Like I said above, the next time they meet should be a cracker of a match.
Super Rugby Aotearoa
This week started with the Crusaders defeating the Chiefs 32-19 in Hamilton. The Chiefs were right in the match, trailing 20-19 at the 60 minute mark, when there was a controversial try awarded to Sevu Reece after what looked like a knock-on. From there the Chiefs just weren’t able to get back in it and the Crusaders ran away with it.
The other match, between the Highlanders and Blues, was a bit back and forth with both teams showing moments of dominance followed by errors. The Blues outscored the Highlanders 5 tries to 2 and their defence was tough to break. It wasn’t until the final 5-10 minutes when the Highlanders looked to kick it up an gear and really looked dangerous. Unfortunately it was too late, the Blues go the win and moved to just 2 points behind the Crusaders.
With just 2 rounds left and no finals, let’s see what has to happen for different teams to hope to take out the title.
The Crusaders really only need to win one of their remaining 2 matches. They currently have 24 points, but the Blues, who are behind them on 22, have a bye to come. That means the Blues can get a maximum total of 27 points, a win to the Crusaders will surpass that.
If the Highlanders beat the Crusaders this weekend, it means that the match at Eden Park the following week between the blues and Crusaders could effectively be a final with the winner taking the title.
There is a very slim and mathematically convoluted way thet the hurricanes could win it, but it’s too complicated for me to try and make sense of right now and probably won’t happen anyway. It involves the Highlanders beating the Crusaders, the Blues beating the Crusaders with no bonus point, the Hurricanes beating the Chiefs and Highlanders with bonus points in both games and even then they would need to rely on points differential. See, complicated!
Speaking of the Super Rugby Aotearoa, have you seen the trophy?
It is called Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa, which translates to Stand As One New Zealand. Carved out of totara, the Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa base represents an upturned waka. The traditional pounamu mere mounted on top signifies the strength and unity rugby has shown to create Super Rugby Aotearoa and bring the rugby community back together. You can read more about it here.
It isn’t often I find myself in agreement with Rod Kafer, but on Friday night there was a period of time where I agreed with everything he said. I even made a comment about what I thought should be happening and moments later Kafe said nearly the exact same thing.
At around the 50-minute mark in the Rebels v Force match, Thrush received a yellow card (the clock actually read 49:57). There was a bit of discussion in the commentary box about what to do, Kafer said they should elect to take a penalty shot. The rationale being that they could take an easy 3, receive the kick off and be back down the end again quickly, possibly scoring again. But the Rebels elected to take a scrum. In that scrum they dominated the Force and earned a penalty. Now it took 1 minute for the scrum to take place. By the time the ball went wide, Lomani went out, the penalty called back and the players to get back to the mark another 30 seconds had gone by. That doesn’t sound like much … yet.
Given that the Rebels were so dominant in the previous scrum, I assumed they would again scrum and go for a potential pushover/penalty try. Kafer was thinking along the same lines. But instead, the Rebels elected to take a penalty shot. By the time the kick was taken, Thrush had been in the bin for 2 and a half minutes. A quarter of the time in the bin. This raised the question of why not take the penalty in the first place? They ended up in the same spot, just 2 minutes later.
By the time the ball is kicked off again Thrush has been in the bin for 3 minutes and 10 seconds. Granted, part of that was down to the Force wandering slowly back to take the kick.
Then, from the kick off, the Rebels receive the ball and proceed to kick it. Not once, but twice. They managed to regather the first kick, but not the second. I’m no coach or expert in rugby tactics, but when you have a man up, isn’t it better to have the ball in hand knowing the other team is down a defender? Anyway, they failed to regather the second kick, the Force get the ball, kick it back (again, I would have thought not giving the opposition the ball when they had a man advantage was better), rebels knock on and there’s a scrum to the Force with 4 minutes left for Thrush in the bin. From there the Force go on to score a try. Then, with 40 seconds left in the Bin, the Rebels finally manage to get the ball back down their end and score a try of their own.
There were numerous decisions in that 10 minute period that left me wondering … but like I said. I’m not a tactician or coach, just a casual observer.