With much of the attention taken up early this week by the SANZAAR announcement for the future layout of Super Rugby, the game itself might have been missed. There were some cracking games in fact, and more to come this week too. So never fear, as the weekly forecast gives you the rundown of what to look toward to in Super Rugby Round Eight.
The sides at this stage of the competition are running into form. Some have taken their bye to rest and rotate. Others needed the break, like the Crusaders and Highlanders. Some returned with venom; the Brumbies (see main photo), while other looked to ‘still be warming up’.
So as the ninth week of rugby greets us, so too does Easter. A time to be with family, it will not interrupt Super Rugby Round Eight though. With a match scheduled for Good Friday, families can enjoy their family roast, before a big night out to the rugby in Christchurch. Great timing to sit back and watch a game, and the six matches to enjoy on ‘Super Saturday’. Perfect timing.
In saying that, we first revisit the full results of Super Rugby Round Seven –
Hurricanes 38 Waratahs 26 | Sunwolves 21 Bulls 20 | Highlanders 26 Blues 20 | ACT Brumbies 43 Reds 10 | Sharks 18 Jaguares 13 | Stormers 34 Chiefs 26 | Force 46 Southern Kings 41
— Aaron (@AaronTillyer) April 11, 2017
While a good highlights package will suffice to show the overall match outcomes, it cannot capture moments. Just as most coaches will tell you, it is in those moments of the game, where it is won or lost. The results last week favoured the home sides, yet visitors (like the Chiefs and Blues) brought some incredible moments;
- TRY ASSIST OF THE WEEK – Dillon Leyds (see below video)
- BACKS TRY OF THE WEEK – Tony Pulu, with a 95 meter team try
- FORWARDS TRY OF THE WEEK – Charlie Faumuina, big step for a Prop
- OFFENSIVE SCRUM DRIVE – The Brumbies push-over try was a thing of beauty.
Who Did Well? #1 – Sharks
Yes, it was a tight affair. The Sharks 18 Jaguares 13 scoreline should remind you of a test match, and the inter-conference game affected the two sides places on the table. The Sharks lifted for this result and Curwin Bosch slipped in well at full back. And while the Jaguares are still dangerous and could have made the comeback, this loss may have removed a tooth from the ‘Jags bite.
The Sharks now go into the bye with a better than average record. The draw will see them play at home against the Rebels and Force, with a trip to Buenos Aires. Collect at least 12 points there, it will set them up well.
Who Did Well? #2 – Stormers
Words will only do the match a degree of justice, so review this game, and then take a breath! Only a handful of clashes will have New Zealand fans wake in the small hours, and even Chiefs fans will say ‘that was one worth watching’. The Stormers showed a resolve missing in their quarter final on 2016. From the sterling leadership of Siya Kolisi, and the attacking flair of SP Marais.
As well, the fine coaching is gaining plaudits from former-Springboks coach Nick Mallet;
“This was a fantastic game to watch, and for the Stormers to come out on top is brilliant.”
— JudgeRugby (@JudgeRugby) April 8, 2017
Standings: NZ Conference – Crusaders | Australian conf – Brumbies | Africa One – Stormers | Africa Two – Lions
No changes at the top, as the slip-up by the Chiefs gave the Crusaders a crucial break. They and the Stormers are now unbeaten, with the Lions ready to pounce after a bye week. The standards are there, provided the focus is retained [after the upset by SANZAAR announcements] so the forecast is looking great for more quality games to come.
Now, to look forward to Round Eight. (BYE: Highlanders, Force, Sharks, Waratahs) The official match packs from SANZAAR show that seven games will be enjoyed, across three continents. Again, just a single match Friday, the very first between these two teams.
Super Rugby Round Eight Forecast
Good Friday, April 14 – Crusaders v Sunwolves, Christchurch
In the first match ever, the odds look heavily in Scott Robertson’s teams favour. Bringing back heavyweights like Kieran Read and Richie Mo’unga, it will be a true night of celebrations. aside from the hot crossed buns, prop Wyatt Crockett (below) writes his name alone on the record of Super Rugby caps. By the end of the game, fans should be celebrating a win and a salute to a long term stalwart of Crusaders rugby.
— Stuff.co.nz Sport (@NZStuffSport) April 12, 2017
Saturday April 15 – Reds v Kings, Brisbane | Blues v Hurricanes, Auckland | Rebels v Brumbies, Melbourne | Cheetahs v Chiefs, Bloemfontein | Stormers v Lions, Cape Town | Bulls v Jaguares, Pretoria
Another match with zero history, but with the Reds and Kings in a similar end of the table. The Reds lost their chance in Canberra, so will be angry–as too will be the Kings, upset at the fact they are soon to be removed from the competition. For them, they can make a statement, so it should be an interesting clash.
Blues Must Make Progress, or Feel Wrath of ‘Canes
Head coach Tana Umaga is familiar with this situation. (a) having played for the Hurricanes, (b) having faced the Blues in a local derby, and (c) with his team in a must win situation. His and his teams cause was distracted by Sonny Bill this week, but with that settled, they must work hard at Eden Park Saturday.
Hard to revive any confidence, unless they win. And that is because as they fall further behind the leading pack, teams like the Hurricanes may count on games like this to secure valuable points. Chris Boyd has his men firing, so Umaga must again ask his team to believe….it could be a superb return in form. And with the forecasted tropical Cyclone Cook affecting Auckland, the conditions will also play a key part.
— RK (@d_kingmaker_b) April 12, 2017
While the Chiefs face the Cheetahs; like the Kings, the African team maybe distracted. And with Dave Rennie easily able to motivate his team with a good old ‘kick up the bum’ it might be a big score. Their 95 meter try takes the highlights, but they still would want to show improvement in attack–expect a revival for the Hamilton men.
Aussie Battle Leading up to Anzac Round
To wrap-up the Australasian games, the Rebels hold-up at home, to hosts the Brumbies. It is one of the games where if the Rebels did win, two assumptions would be made. Firstly, the SANZAAR decision gave a huge dose of motivation to the [possibly] under threat team. Or, the Brumbies are not what the rugby commentators assumed they were.
A loss is not what Stephen Larkham will want–if it happens, the victors will bolster their chances of staying in the competition. But with Scott Fardy (see main photo) and his mates pretty buoyant, the forecast seems to favour the visitors stealing the chocolate eggs.
Forecasted ‘Match of the Round’
For the second week, the Stormers match is critical. That is an admission that the team from Cape Town are strong, but so is the challenge. The Lions will feel they can match the style of the home side, but possibly will be a little jaded. Possibly with such a warm-up as the Chiefs last week, the Stormers are prepared (better prepared than 2017). Not a certainty, as Johan Ackerman will motivate his side to prove ‘they are the best African side’. It is that big–be sure to watch, or follow the outcome with Ryan Jordan’s weekly round-up.
With a huge attendance, that is a positive for the game in South Africa. That should also apply to the Pretoria match. The Jaguares are no slouches, so the Bulls need to stand-up. In the upset of the year, a loss to the Sunwolves will still felt–how can it not–so I believe the Bulls will be yet another angry team. That must be controlled, so one can imagine a moment of indiscipline could be the tipping point. Not the Jaguares best attribute, so if they play smart instead of ‘tough’ they may collect the win.
Look forward to more footy, and the forecast is to “pack down on the couch, have a couple of Easter eggs and enjoy!”
This Week In Rugby History
Wembley Stadium, the home of English football, staged its first representative rugby match when the Scottish Service XV defeated their English counterparts 8-5.
France beat Wales for the first time (and at the 16th attempt).
The Bulls continued the revival of South Africa’s sides in the Super 12 with a crushing 35-20 triumph over The Crusaders. The result mattered little in the grand scheme however, Robbie Deans’ men seeing out the tournament as winners for the fifth time.
The IRB announced that France would host the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The IRB Council voted an overwhelming 18-3 in favour of France’s bid to stage a 20-team tournament co-hosted by Wales, Ireland and Scotland.
The ‘Week in Rugby History’ is sourced from the ESPN UK ‘on this day’ webpage.
“Main photo credit”