With the away teams claiming 4/6 wins during Round Ten competition, it again proved that results are not predictable, in this week’s Super Rugby snapshot.

That example was best illustrated in Durban. A confident local team faced the traveling Queensland Reds side. Few if any, aside from loyal Australian fans, would have bet on the struggling Reds team. Yet as they lead 7-14 after 40 minutes, the Sharks had little to hold back the away team. The Reds claimed a valiant win away on foreign soil.

What does this Super Rugby snapshot hope to highlight this week? Not that upsets are ‘bound to occur’. No, that might only be a natural occurrence in any professional environment. True of Super Rugby, as it is of French Top 14, the Gallagher Premiership or even Major League Rugby in the USA.

No, the away victory trend here proves that you cannot discount any side.

Each round, there are results that may go against the trend. So the ACT Brumbies proved that truth, as they too visited South Africa. And with few expectations, they surprised the Stormers in Cape Town.

Fighting for every inch (see above) and overcoming pre-match injury to David Pocock, this result further torments the Stormers hopes of topping the South African conference standings.

Away teams win 4/6 – Super Rugby Snapshot

Of the South African sides, the Lions maximized their opportunities in Round 10. Visiting Waikato, they were able to mirror victory from two years ago. Yet the 2019 vintage of the Lions had not shown that they were up to the task. So their 17-23 exhibition was outstanding, as the traveling group joined behind Warren Whiteley, in a real desire to show their power.

Following up on a loss to the Brumbies a week before, it now propels the Championship finalist into a more powerful position. Although their next fixture is against the all-powerful Crusaders, if a side can glean any motivation from a schedule of three tough games abroad, it might be a great example of the Lions merit.

Boosting the Brumbies chances too, as all sides aim to chase down the table-topping Crusaders. With that side enjoying a bye that coincided with the Easter holidays, they are one side who are programmed to halt visitors from upsetting them.

If the same could be said of the Sunwolves, that side might have been able to defend their early lead over the Hurricanes. Leading at halftime, a more defiant Sunwolves team, may have been able to stop the ‘Canes recovery.

The Hurricanes lived to celebrate, in a strategic move to leave several stars at home. It has tripped up many teams in the past – most notably the Lions visiting Buenos Aires in 2017. That poor away result (that the Sunwolves would now wish had occurred) would remove the Lions home advantage for that years’ grand final.

Away victories can count towards much in Super Rugby

As in Round 10, last week several away victories appeared to give teams confidence. The Stormers win in Melbourne was likely to give them plenty of motivation. Yet that has all come crashing down – and shows that away victories should count towards much, provided that you continue to build on that result.

This weekend, the Jaguares enjoyed a bye [like the Crusaders]. And the ‘Jags will hope that they can carry on with a winning trend. As such, the Lions are ultimately going to be judged by the next weekend’s result.

Like any key point in a team’s season, were the Lions to upset the Crusaders, it is one away result that might give more hope to others in 2019.

In all reality, a Lions loss will just prove what many believe already; the Crusaders have one hand on the trophy already. But, that view is not indicative of how hard teams are working in 2019.

The Highlanders and Waratahs hometown wins will surely be a boost for those teams. The ‘Landers need to recover much more than the ‘Tahs however, each side should head into their next clashes with a clearer view towards the end-goal.

Blues come tumbling back down to Earth

Possibly, the one outcome that will point directly at teams strengths or weaknesses, was the Blues failure in Dunedin. The side had managed to string together victories and claim a local derby win. The reverse fixture against the Highlanders down at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, might be seen as a tipping point.

Tumbling back down to earth with a thud, by not securing a win – let alone a losing bonus point. Sitting in a position of strength in the standings, they have now leaked places, and fall within the clutches of the mid-table.

Imagine if the Blues had won against the Chiefs? If they had beaten the Highlanders on Saturday night? They might be placed above the Hurricanes this week. Super confident, and self-assured, at earning away victories. That was the reward on offer.

now, many will see the ‘Blues of old’ again. inconsistent, and unable to win away from home.

It could have been great. But unfortunately, the realities of winning away from home is obvious. It is not an easy feat – so the 4/6 wins this round, is admirable. It is not easy (otherwise it would be happening every week). Home sides do hold some confidence, so if anything can be taken from the Super Rugby snapshot this week is, that you can’ guarantee a win.

Winning must be earned on the field. Not prior. Not on the training ground – many coaches recall post-game “we trained well and were in good condition”. Yet winning is not automatic…..maybe Scott Robertson can feel more confident than most. But earning a win at home or away, should naturally be rejoiced.

So well done to each of the four sides this week. They, alongside the Highlanders and Waratahs, can be thankful after the Easter festivities. They can now refocus on the competition.

Look towards the next two months – as every fan will do – before the playoffs come along in June.

 

“Main photo credit”

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