Super Rugby Review: Week 13
Saturday, May 12, 2018 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
New Zealand Conference
Beating the Blues doesn't necessarily make sides potential championship winners but there was plenty to admire in the unrelenting approach the Hurricanes took to apply their methodology to a Blues side that was improved, yet still let down by their own lack of execution going down 15-36. The link between forwards and backs was impressive, especially when Ben Lam and Beauden had minimal chances in the face of the Blues' defence.
The Crusaders, by season's end, may look back at their amazing comeback against the Waratahs as a key point in their campaign. Down 29-0 at a run-a-minute pace, the Crusaders called on all their legacy to inspire their fightback making full use of the Waratahs' inability to seize their chance. It was a welcome return by loosehead prop Joe Moody for his first start of the season.
Playing their natural game allowed the Highlanders to beat the Lions playing theirs, where the rolling lineout maul was the only way they could open up the home defence. The Highlanders made life difficult for themselves midway through the game when allowing the Lions back in, but in the end did enough to be deserved winners 39-27.
Putting the heat on the Stormers scrum, and with lock Brodie Retallick producing a man-of-the-match performance, the Chiefs demonstrated again the great depth of their resolve in claiming a 15-9 win in Cape Town. It was a tough contest which was finally decided when a penalty try was awarded to the Chiefs after repeated Stormers infringments at the scrum.
Given the way the Sunwolves have played on occasions during the season, it was only a matter of time before they got it all together and the Reds found that out to effect. A 63-28 margin brooks no arguments but the concern for Reds coach Brad Thorn will be the number of penalties conceded in goal-kicking range, something Hayden Parker relished to land seven penalty goals and five conversions.
Just when it seemed things couldn't get any worse for Australian sides, the Waratahs managed the choke of the season up 29-0 against the defending champions and beaten 31-29 at AMI Stadium. Getting so far ahead, so early in the game demands discipline, but the Waratahs couldn't manage losing two players to the sin bin.
The Brumbies also managed to cough up a 21-5 lead before going down 24-27 to the Rebels in Canberra. And after all the earthquakes occurring in the Australian Conference, the Rebels halted a five-game losing streak to move back to within one point of the Conference lead.
Three South African Conference sides are sitting on 24 points, seven behind leaders the Lions, who are one game in front. The Stormers' 9-15 loss to the Chiefs has made life very difficult for them in the remainder of the season.
The Bulls proved the biggest beneficiaries of a round in which they were the only South African side to win. They beat the Sharks 39-33 in Pretoria to be ninth and 10th respectively while ahead of them are the Jaguares who had the bye at the weekend. As things stand the Jaguares would be the second side from the Conference to make the playoffs.
The Bulls travel to Argentina to play the Jaguares next weekend while the Sharks are host to the Chiefs – both are key games for each of the sides concerned. The Lions return home from New Zealand to host the Brumbies.
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