Super Rugby Review: Round 4
Saturday, March 18, 2017 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
New Zealand Conference
No-one could deny the ability of the Chiefs to put aside their injury concerns and still have the firepower to win games. It took three-quarters of the contest in Melbourne to grind down the Rebels, who looked a much more combative side than in their first two outings. But there was always a sense that it was just a matter of time before the Chiefs got their act together, and so it proved with their 27-14 margin.
Similarly, the Crusaders have always been known for playing with something extra for the cause and that was evident in the third come from behind win in the competition, this time at the expense of a thankfully better Blues side who will wonder how they managed to lose from 24-5 out in front?
The Hurricanes made an emphatic return to the winners' circle after their loss to the Chiefs a week earlier when beating the Highlanders 41-15. It was an impressive effort from the defending champions who regained the attacking zest and it was unfortunate that injuries affected the Highlanders again, especially after they had been so competitive during the first half.
The Australian Conference has been thrown wide open with the Brumbies dealing to the Waratahs 28-12 in Sydney. Pressure told on the home team as they lost four key lineouts in the second half while also giving away penalties. The loss left the Waratahs fourth in the Conference and 16th on the overall table while the Brumbies lead the Conference.
The Reds were hammered 14-44 by the Lions in South Africa and their cause was not helped when a high tackle saw Quade Cooper sent off in the second half. They are still in second place in the Conference in spite of the loss.
You have to give credit to the Rebels for their competitiveness against the Chiefs. Their play was one-dimensional but for long stretches it kept them in the game as they were undoubtedly motivated about concerns for their longer term future when Sanzaar make their decision known.
The Bulls finally got their first points on the board, courtesy of their 34-21 win over the Sunwolves on Friday. But they did it the hard way with only 14 men for the second half when Renaldo Bothma was sent off. They only led 17-14 at half-time but Jan Serfontein picked up two tries for a four tries to two win.
It gets tougher for the Sunwolves as a result of the loss but they are showing signs of improvement if not quite having the ability to knock over sides.
The Cheetahs retained second place behind the Stormers, who had a bye, after their 14-41 loss to the Jaguares in Argentina.
Lions wing Courtnall Skosan scored four tries as his side put their Jaguares loss behind them in Johannesburg to thrash the Reds 44-14.
The Sharks were given a fright by the Kings before claiming a 19-17 win in Durban. It took a long range penalty goal from Curwin Bosch with eight minutes remaining for the Sharks to secure the win.
The Jaguares made good use of home advantage to secure a 41-14 win over the Cheetahs, the last impetus to the score coming from the awarding of a penalty try to the Jaguares. That moved them to a shard of the Conference with the Lions, and with the Sharks one behind.
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