Round Six Super Rugby Snapshot

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Round Six Super Rugby Snapshot
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 23: Tyler Ardron of the Chiefs during the Super Rugby match between Vodacom Bulls and Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld on March 23, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

In this Round Six Super Rugby Snapshot, followers of the competition find that ‘you win some, and you lose some’. And for leading teams and those at the bottom of the table, results were at the two extremes this round.

No matter if you are at the top, or down at the bottom of the ladder, you still have hope – shown best by the Chiefs and the Blues in Round Six.

Still leading the competition, but certainly personally feeling the pain of their city, the Crusaders had an emotional week to manage. The terrible gun-attacks at two of Christchurch’s mosques had taken many members of the Muslim community. So all teams would pay their respects this week, in their memory, and in a rugbyunited stand for solidarity against violence.

Not only were the competition leaders feeling their emotions, but SANZAAR put a ‘kick in the guts’ to the Sunwolves Super Rugby hopes. The official announcement came out to say Sayonara to the Japanese entrant, after the 2020 season.

It will eventually put an end to the much-maligned conference system, and return Southern Hemisphere rugby back to a round-robin system. Bact to a ‘first past the post’ playoffs format too, that rewards effort. But, that is still two years away.

For the Crusaders this weekend, being able to put to one side their sadness would take a mammoth effort. In Round Six, they traveled to Sydney, and would find it a struggle; even with the return of their captain, Sam Whitelock.

Round Six Super Rugby Snapshot

The New South Wales (NSW) Waratahs have not been as successful, since the departure of Wallabies head coach, Michael Cheika. Often leading the Australian conference, yet failing to place any pressure during the playoffs. They fell at the ‘wrong time’ and this weekend, many assumed as much.

But low and behold, by shear effort and using the conditions to their advantage, the Waratahs caused the biggest upset of Round Six Super Rugby.

How can this be? Well, if you ask the Australian commentators, it was ‘long overdue’. In 2018, the ‘Tahs headed to Christchurch, and almost ripped the carpet from under the Crusaders. Leading 0-29 at halftime, it took a massive effort by the home side to walk away with a 34-29 win. So when they say the ‘Tahs were due a win’ it was because the team believed they could eventually work out the winning formula.

No excuses will be made by the Crusaders either. A professional sportsman must put to one side issues – even if they are unprecedented terror attacks. So Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock expressed it best, when he told media, “We were our own worst enemy at times tonight because when we went to exit we dropped the ball and gave them another shot. There’s only so many tackles you can make in a game, and we gave them far too much [ball]. Full credit to them.”

Waratahs ‘trip up’ Crusaders, as Israel Folau equals Try Scoring record

Aside from any rested All Blacks, and not considering the factors of the Friday 15 March attacks, it was the best display from the Waratahs in many years. A combination of defence, determination and of the input from star players.

Israel Foloau now sits equally beside Doug Howlett, on the figure of 59 tries in Super Rugby history. His one try was not an example of the devastating speed or his amazing ability to leap for the ball, but it mirrored how this was the Waratahs best-combined effort. Folau put Cameron Clark away for his try, and he, Karmichael Hunt and Kurtley Beale are showing that this group could again be as successful as the 2015 title-winning side.

Could be… although they still must defeat the ACT Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels in their own conference, to be in a position to do so. Points accumulation will count for plenty this season. In this Round Six Super Rugby snapshot, it shows the Crusaders falling back into a share of the NZ conference lead [on 19 points]. The NSW Waratahs sit on 14 points – one less win, and a bonus point away from their New Zealand opponents.

Bonus points are still hard to find for the majority of teams. Although, the Chiefs have stunned the South African conference places, by stealing away from Pretoria with a five-point haul. In a true ‘boil over’ result, the lowly Chiefs defeated the impressive Bulls 20-56. A huge result, and one that will boost the lagging confidence of Colin Cooper’s men – as it (almost) bursts the bubble of Pote Human.

The beaten Bulls coach reacted to the loss, saying “We were very poor today and we allowed them to look like they were on the right track again. I know we are better than this, we showed that in three of our first four games but, this is a bad one to take. We have to take it on the chin, and come back stronger next week”.

For the Chiefs, it lifts their spirits – as well as giving them the comfort of the first victory for 2019.

Extreme ends of Super Rugby standings – diverse results

When 70% off rugby punters suggested the Crusaders would win, it also factored that only 30% of fans picked the Chiefs. That team had not won in Pretoria for nearly 20 years. So history was not on their side, and the two extremes should have been reflected in the outcomes.

What fans are finding in 2019 is, that history or common trends have little to do with your performance on the day. A side like the Crusaders, who were on a 19-match winning streak, are just as beatable as any team; external factors notwithstanding. If you believe you are good enough, then as a team you can defeat anyone. Colin Cooper and Daryl Gibson will each be extremely pleased with how their teams performed.

The Blues too, who found the right combinations finally, in defeating another New Zealand team [after a 20-game losing streak]. It was bound to occur, as records are always made to be broken. So every team has now suffered one defeat – and every team has at least one victory.

You win some, you lose some.

The Lions were successful, making the Sunwolves season a little more difficult. The Hurricanes emerged victorious over the Stormers, who might kick themselves that they were not able to add to their four wins over the ‘Canes. A real close result.

What you are finding, it that to be successful across a full season of Super Rugby, it will require better performances. To perform better than your opposition, and, to perform consistently. That will reward the top teams in each conference, and offer chances of performing in this years’ finals series. One season where a ‘certain tournament’ has to be put to one side. To focus week-to-week on this competition.

And watch your back too. After this Super Rugby snapshot, it proves that you need to be at your best, against every; and any, team.

Note: Queensland Reds v ACT Brumbies ends Round Six Super Rugby fixtures on March 24.

 

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