It’s time for Planet Rugby’s weekly round-up of who has their name in lights at the moment… and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
They’re on fire!
That historic game in Suva: Quite brilliant. The first time a Super Rugby match had been played in Fiji and it was a beauty. Outstanding from both the Chiefs and Crusaders in front of a packed out ANZ National Stadium as fans braved the rain and weren’t disappointed. James Lowe and Brad Weber scored great tries for the Chiefs while Jone Macilai’s wasn’t half bad either for the Crusaders. Let’s do this again.
Lions: That is Africa 2 wrapped up. 9/1 outsiders to do so in pre-season, the Lions again proved their doubters wrong. Today though there are few who would write them off going all the way to Super Rugby glory. They were too strong for the Sharks as they won 37-10, with Jaco Kriel leading well in the absence of captain Warren Whiteley. It is not unfair to say each Lion got the better of their opposite number.
Matt Faddes: One of the unsung heroes of the Highlanders, Faddes stood out in a hard-fought win over the Kings, scoring a hat-trick. He’s impressed at outside centre, wing and on Saturday full-back for the reigning champions, with his pace off the mark one of his attributes. If he keeps this up, due to his versatility he may start knocking on the Test door. That’s way down the line, but he’s on the right track.
Stormers set-piece play: The men from the Cape were in a rampant mood against the Rebels, delivering a superb all-round effort in their 57-31 triumph in Melbourne. While their entire team deserve credit for that performance, a special word of praise goes to their forwards, who controlled the set-pieces from start to finish. Their dominance in the scrums was best illustrated when Laurie Weeks came on for Cruze Ah Nau in the 28th minute after he came off second best to Vincent Koch, while Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit reigned supreme in the lineouts, even poaching some of the Rebels’ balls.
Waratahs: 57-12 against the Sunwolves and it was done in style. Nine tries were scored in all and each one had something classy about it, with offloads galore and good running lines tearing the Super Rugby newcomers to pieces. Miss the game? Fear not, here’s the highlights.
Brrrrr someone get these guys a warm cup of soup!
Bulls: Yes the conditions were atrocious in Buenos Aires but the Bulls didn’t adapt and were well beaten in the end by the Jaguares 29-11. They made too many mistakes under no real pressure, especially in the back-three, as the hosts dominated them in all facets. The scrum and lineout in particular led to two of their tries as the rolling maul had the Bulls in disarray. Against a side that had won just twice all season and with the Bulls having a chance to move into a Super Rugby wildcard places, this was as disappointing as it gets for their fans.
Kurt Baker and Liam Messam: New Zealand announced their Sevens squad for the Rio Olympics on Sunday and there were two notable names not included. Baker has been a mainstay in the side in recent seasons but misses the cut while Messam, who has struggled for game-time due to injury this year, also finds himself out in the cold. The latter will now return to Chiefs duty as he looks to impress in the XVs game.
Mifiposeti Paea: On attack Paea can do some damage for the Sunwolves, but Saturday’s game was more a case of self-inflicted pain. According to the statistics Paea made no tackles and missed five as the Waratahs ran riot in Tokyo. Ouch.
Kings attendance: We’ve searched for an official attendance from the game against the Highlanders in Port Elizabeth but to no avail. Perhaps they didn’t want it to be released. After a bumper crowd for the third Test between South Africa and Ireland the previous week, the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium looked desperately empty. Which is a shame, because those who did turn up were treated to a decent 80 minutes.