Super Rugby Round 12 – by Jake Laux

Extra parity week (excluding round 5’s abandoned match) edition.  

Ratings for the games
Crusaders Sharks: 6/10
Reds Sunwolves: 6/10
Hurricanes Rebels: 5/10
Highlanders Chiefs: 8/10
Brumbies Blues: 4/10
Bulls Waratahs: 7/10
Jaguares Stormers: 7/10
Talking points

Crusaders 21 – Sharks 21: I do not believe anyone anticipated this result.  Were it not for an 82nd minute try and conversion, the Durbanites would have stolen one from the table toppers, who, for their part, looked ordinary without Richie Mo’unga at first five. 

Have the ‘Saders been solved?  Taking the points when the Canterburians cynically flop in rucks and post up offside in their own 22 certainly builds pressure.  The Sharks’ defensive effort must be lauded as well.  After repeated blinders, Sevu Reece looked pedestrian.  Finally, the Sharks stink at home.  If they can come into the playoffs as a low seed, maybe they can make a run?

Reds 32 – Sunwolves 26: More cards were seen in this game than at your local Friday Night Magic gathering.  Angus Gardner, having since been selected to the RWC 2019 team, was certainly unafraid to make his presence felt.  Samu Kerevi had about a thousand run meters.  Hayden Parker is going to find himself in demand next year. 

Ready for a tinfoil hat theory?  As a native Kiwi, he could sign a 2020 Super contract to a NZ side and be a bolter for RWC 2019.  You heard it here first (and will forget you heard it here if it does not pan out).  

Hurricanes 29 – Rebels 19: I don’t blame you if you shut it off before the half.  A week off of putting it on the Chiefs, the Canes appeared poised to run it up on the Turnstiles Rebels this week, holding the Rebels scoreless at the half with over 20 themselves.  The second half was the opposite, with the Melbournites aided by Billy Meakes’ injection from the bench.  Cooper missed an absolute sitter and just looked dumbfounded.  Wes Goosen raised his hand as another outside back having a good year.  Too bad nobody can see it behind the forest of hands raised in front of him.  

Highlanders 31 – Chiefs 31: Last week’s drubbing of the Chiefs by the Canes aside, the Kiwi derbies have been rather spectacular this year.  This one featured running rugby galore, offloads, unpenalized side entry to rucks, tries, everything the NZ conference is known for.  Jackson Hemopo’s triple involvement leading up to Bender’s try was a tremendous display of skill from the big man.  Aaron Smith’s flat pass to Lentjes for a try was class.  With the Landers looking strong, up three scores with only 20 to play, it
might have been over but for the efforts of Chiefs’ blindside/openside/8th man Luke Jacobson.  A former u20 captain, it seems he has noticed the dearth of blindside options in black and wants in. 

ALB continues to be the form center in Super this year. He leads the competition with 28 offloads, with a margin of 9 ahead of Izzy Folau’s 19.  

Brumbies 26 – Blues 21: It’s time to talk about Folau.  Love him or hate him, you cannot argue he is class.  He’s the leading try scorer in Super, and to think there is a chance he wouldn’t be selected for the Wallabies.  It’s ridiculous.  In any case, Folau Fainga’a’s hat-trick was enough to put the Blues to bed.  Boring, uninspired, Northern Hemisphere-tier – call it what you like: it works.  For their part, the Blues did not really do anything to
assert dominance either.  Nonu has cooled off during this mid-season stretch.  

Bulls 28 -Waratahs 21: A competitive affair, with the Tahs coming back from down 21-8 to parity before giving up a late try.  The highlight was unquestionably Nick Phipps’ try following some wonderful touches by the Tahs.  Duane Vermeulen’s intercept try was a treat as well, including the fend on Curtis Rona to dot down.  Pollard slotted one from about 60 meters, stamping his superiority over the “Ice Man” from the NSW side if not for his misses in the second half.  The Bulls’ forwards won this one for them.  

Jaguares 30 – Stormers 25: The Jags are tough to beat at home.  It’s been a talking point all season about parity, but the Jags are only one point off the pace in the Saffa conference behind the Sharks and Bulls.  Concerns over Nico Sanchez’s departure have been forgotten at this point with the revelation that is Domingo Miotti.  Two tries in ten minutes on debut and he has not looked back since then.  Pablo Matera also class for the home team with a try of his own.  Competitive until the yellow card/penalty try
combo sealed it for the Jaguares.  

Glancing ahead

The Bulls have the Crusaders; can they follow the blueprint the Sharks laid out?  Blues are do or die vs. the Canes in what hopefully will be another thrilling derby.  Lions-Waratahs features last year’s conference champs as two teams battling for playoff spots.  Finally, the Sunwolves and Brumbies should be a funny juxtaposition of the most running rugby focused team in the comp vs. the maul.