Hurricanes 38-37 Sharks
The Sharks went oh so close to producing the boilover result of the season in Napier, only to be denied by an epic 80-metre, 85th-minute try and conversion.
Early on the Hurricanes scored twice through fullback Jordie Barrett and centre Ngani Laumape to lead 12-3. The Sharks, however, stuck to their guns and were rewarded with tries to Lukhanyo Am and Louis Schreuder and a deserved 17-12 lead.
In a pivotal moment centre Vince Aso snatched the ball away from Sharks wing Lwazi Mvovo, sprinting to the line to reduce the deficit. Had Mvovo secured that ball a Sharks try and big lead was definitely on. They did, however, score again before half time, Am’s second extending the lead to 27-19.
The Hurricanes had lost 5/8 Beauden Barrett to a quad injury announced just before kickoff and it showed, his stand-in Ihaia West being very much the tradesman to Barrett’s artisan. The loss of halfback TJ Peranara at half time left the Hurricanes further short of leadership and direction and it would’ve been a brave man who predicted they would come back from there.
Unusually for the Hurricanes the comeback initially came in multiples of three, West successful in the 50th and 71st minutes. Sharks flyhalf Robert Du Preez added his third penalty at the 54 minute mark and converted replacement forward Tyler Paul’s 72nd-minute try to take his match haul to 17 and the lead out to 37-29.
With just three minutes left the Hurricanes were awarded another penalty and, again surprisingly given their recent history, West again pointed at the posts. He was on target, the lead had shrunk to just five, and the home crowd were in full voice.
From the restart the Sharks went deep and endeavoured to pin the Hurricanes inside their 22. It worked but not for quite long enough, Franco Marais earning a yellow card with time up and the Hurricanes retaining possession for a staggering five-and-bit minutes and traversing 80 metres before West delivered the final pass for Laumape to score. West then calmly slotted the conversion to snatch a win that had seemed impossible less than ten minutes earlier.
The win and other results see the Hurricanes second in the New Zealand Conference and fourth overall while the Sharks sit just outside the playoffs. Remarkably they’ve won just two games but collected six bonus points in their seven outings.
SANZAAR match page: https://sanzarrugby.com/superrugby/match-centre/?season=2018&competition=205&match=518081
Chiefs 21-19 Blues
The Chiefs needed a last-quarter penalty try to overcome a Blues side that lead for long periods but were once again unable to close the match out.
The Blues got away to a 6-0 lead through 5/8 Stephen Perofeta before Chiefs winger Sean Wainui scored the first try of the night after a great buildup featuring his 5/8 Damian McKenzie and fullback Solomon Alaimalo. McKenzie added a penalty to put the Chiefs up 11-6.
Blues hooker James Parsons then burrowed over, in the TMO’s opinion anyway, and Perofeta converted plus added a penalty to hand the Blues a somewhat surprising 19-14 lead at the break. Akira Ioane had an immense first-half presence while brother Reiko looked almost as out of place at 13 as he did at 12 last week, his opposite number Anton Lienert-Brown comfortably winning their contest.
The third quarter was a strange affair from the Chiefs who camped in the Blues half but failed to score. Either the wrong option was taken or, more often, the correct option was taken but poorly executed. The loss of McKenzie, replaced by his less-mercurial (and, to be brutally honest, talented) brother Marty, compounded the Chiefs’ woes.
With 13 minutes left Blues lock Josh Goodhue was sin-binned for a classic “sleepy kiwi” just metres from his line. The Chiefs opted for the scrum and the Blues inexplicably chose to only pack down seven men. They were inevitably penalised but persisted with seven when the Chiefs again took the scrum option. A third collapse resulted in the penalty try being awarded.
The Chiefs remain in the wildcard zone and the Blues remain hopelessly out of contention.
SANZAAR match page: https://sanzarrugby.com/superrugby/match-centre/?season=2018&competition=205&match=518083
Lions 52-31 Stormers
The Lions scored eight tries in their demolition of the Stormers in Johannesburg, four of them to wing Madosh Tambwe who is presumably Congolese rugby’s greatest export.
For their part the Stormers scored three tries and were awarded a penalty try just before full time in what was an entertaining match but one they never looked likely to win after leaking early points.
The Lions are now well clear at the top of the South African Conference while the Stormers still have some hope of playing finals footy but will likely need some favourable results in other games.
SANZAAR match page: https://sanzarrugby.com/superrugby/match-centre/?season=2018&competition=205&match=518085
Crusaders 40-14 Jaguares
The Crusaders completed their two-week circumnavigation of the Southern Hemisphere with a bonus point win in Buenos Aires.
Wing George Bridge scored twice in the opening quarter, first getting on the end of a nice Bryn Hall pass to dot down in the corner then scooping up a Jaguares dropped ball and scooting 70-plus metres to score under the sticks.
The Jaguares are famously ill-disciplined, none more so than lock Tomas Lavanini. His no-arms hit gave the Crusaders an easy 40 metres and from the resulting lineout wing Manasa Mataele crossed untouched, hooker Codie Taylor with the assist, for a 19-0 lead at half time.
Jaguares fullback Joaquin Tuculet got his side on the board soon after half time. A barnstorming run from Mataele, finished off by 5/8 Mitchell Hunt, then briefly restored the margin before centre Jeronimo de la Fuente scored almost immediately from the restart to close the gap to 12.
After a period inside the Crusaders 22 the Jaguares found themselves at the wrong end of the field and in trying to exit had their clearance charged down by centre Ryan Crotty who regathered to score. With ten minutes left Mataele completed his double to guarantee the result and the possibly vital bonus point.
The Crusaders are now top of the New Zealand Conference but have the bye this week so will be overtaken by the winner of the Hurricanes v Chiefs potential blockbuster. The Jaguares are third-last overall.
SANZAAR match page: https://sanzarrugby.com/superrugby/match-centre/?season=2018&competition=205&match=518086
This week’s fixtures (times are AEST):
Hurricanes v Chiefs 17:35 Friday
Sunwolves v Blues 13:05 Saturday
Sharks v Bulls 1:15 Sunday
I didn’t get to see the Lions v Stormers live & neglected to record it, if anyone wants to contribute a roughly 100-word review I’m sure our mate Sully can work it into the mix somehow or other.