God damn it! As an Aussie fan, is that hard to ask for good-old fashioned running rugby?! Well, while our teams are certainly lacking, this week (like last week) sees the Kiwis and Argentinians leading the way once again with exciting rugby, with South Africa not too far behind.
Hurricanes 41-15 Highlanders
This had ‘cracking match’ written all over it. The Hurricanes had been brought back down to Earth last week. The Highlanders had got their first win last week. It was all set. And running rugby it delivered in spades! In front of a boisterous crowd of 17,000 people, the Hurricanes got back to winning ways in emphatic fashion.
The match was a close affair for over half the game, especially the first half. The Hurricanes got the ball rolling early with a brilliant orchestrated rolling maul try, but when the Highlanders pounced on a loose ball twenty minutes in, they began to make several dangerous movements into Hurricanes territory. It resulted in a penalty kick and a try just after the half-hour mark, with the Highlanders leading 8 points to 5.
The Hurricanes struck back though just before halftime off the back of Beauden Barrett’s typical brilliance, chip kicking to Lumape who finished off the try. The game was split open by the Highlanders again just before the break, with Aaron Smith knocking on before he could put the ball down to give the Highlanders a halftime lead.
Halftime Score: Hurricanes 10-8 Highlanders
The second half kicked off in great fashion for the Hurricanes, as the Barrett brothers combined to put Proctor away for the first score inside the first minute. Four minutes later, the Highlanders struck back through Matt Dixon, with margin between the two teams a paltry two points.
However, just after the 50th minute, the Hurricanes scored a stunner with Lumape pushing the lead out to 22-15. From there, the Hurricanes went ballistic. Julian Savea got himself in on the action in the 61st minute, giving the Canes the bonus point. Aso then got in on the fun in the 68th minute to score, before the Hurricanes complemented their comprehensive domination of the last thirty minutes of the game with Aso scoring his second try in the final minute.
In the end it was dominant display, and produced some truly stunning rugby. Typical kiwi match.
Fulltime Score: Hurricanes 41- 15 Highlanders
Crusaders 33-24 Blues
The Crusaders once again managed to steal this one at the death against the Blues, after being down 5-24 at halftime. The Blues produced some amazing running rugby in the first half, and looked to have the Crusaders stunned. However, when the Crusaders scored off a rolling maul in the 50th minute, then sensed a comeback and went in for the kill. The kill they indeed got.
Bulls 34-21 Sunwolves
Many were expecting a demolition by the Bulls, but it was the Sunwolves who took first blood in Pretoria. The Bulls soon got into their stride, with two quick tries to have a 17-6 lead. The Sunwolves however grabbed the try of the game just before halftime to only by three points down at the break. The second half proved an entertaining clash. Despite having Renaldo Bothma red-carded in the 42nd minute, the Bulls did the damage by the 60th minute. However, the Sunwolves put some respectability in the scoreboard to cap off what was a much better performance for the men from Japan.
Sharks 19-17 Kings
Speaking of a surprise, the Sharks certainly had to work for their win against the unfavoured Kings, who rebounded strongly from their loss to the Stormers. From the moment the Kings held back the Sharks rolling maul in the 7th minute, it was clear this game was going to be different. The men from Port Elizabeth led for most of the match, but were eventually undone by a yellow card to Chris Cloete and by a fast finishing Sharks.
Jaguares 41-14 Cheetahs
Review by Marcelo Cardozo
The Jaguares started the game with great intensity, stifling their rival from the outset. With control of the game, they were able to manufacture their first try within 8 minutes of kick off. Tomas Lezana was able to break the Cheetahs defence and the ball came to the winger Ramiro Moyano, who was able to stay inside the field, despite a strong tackle, and reached the in-goal for the first time. Juan Hernandez made the conversion and the game went 7-0 for the locals, however not everything was good for the Jaguares. Despite the first try, Santiago Cordero left the field after a bad head knock complements of a team mates accidental knee and in his place entered a rookie, Bautista Ezcurra, brother of Felipe Ezcurra.
The Jaguares continued to dominate the game and at 19 minutes, the magician Juan Hernandez, taking over the leadership role of his team, getting 3 points from a penalty. The game continued to be favourable for the locals and after some pick and go of their forwards, the second rower Matias Alemanno grabbed the ball a few meters from the rivals in-goal and got inside through his strength and courage. Hernandez made the conversion again and the game was 17-0.
The bad start did not discourage the Cheetahs who, with great courage, came back into the game and scored a first phase try by the centre, Michael van der Spuy. Niel Marais made the conversion taking the score to 17-7. Jaguares hit back taking control of the game again, and in a pretty nice movement, worthy of a Super Rugby team, after many passes, Ramiro Moyano put the ball between the posts making it the conversion easy for Juan Martin Hernandez. The first half ended with a 24-7 for the locals, dominating most of the first half.
In the second half Jaguares extended their dominance despite the replacement of their captain, Agustin Creevy. At the 72 minutes, Gonzalez Iglesias received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. A minute later, Joseph Dweba made the second and last Cheetahs try in the game, after a powerful rolling maul. The Latinos recovered and with one less player scored 2 tries. The first through a stunning run of Moyano, after a kick from Matias Orlando. And the last through a penalty try, after a powerful rolling maul by their forwards. Final score: Jaguares 41 – Cheetahs 14
Tries: Moyano (3), Alemanno, Penalty try
Conversions: Hernandez (4)
Penalties: Hernandez (2)
Tries: van der Spuy, Dweba
Conversions: Marais (2)