Hello and welcome to Super Rugby Week 2, the fall of the crusades edition. Tolstoy here with another masterpiece of rugby musings. Should be more than enough content to get you through your midday shit; if it’s not you need to eat more raisin bran.
First, a moment of silence. Today we remember Stuart Hogg, Scotland international and Damian McKenzie wannabe, who has contracted the ‘beetus as evidenced by the absolute stone hands knock on, unpressured, in the try zone. Stir up your pipes, sing out Amazing Grace, and say good night, sweet prince, to the late Mr. Hogg. It is now up to former Crusader Sean Maitland (and Saffas Kyle Steyn, Byron McGuigan, and Aussie Sam Johnson) to lead the Scotland backline to victory.
An absolute belter this week, with thrice-running champions Crusaders traveling to Waikato (having, apparently, learned their lesson after the shellacking in Suva last year) to play the Chiefs. Richie Mo’unga out with injury so David Havili slots in to first five letting Will Jordan into the run-on side for the ‘Saders, demonstrating their absolute luxury of depth in the backs. Havili, for his part, was fine, continuing the tradition of Kiwi fullbacks-who-play-first-five-that-can’t-pot-a-sitter-off-the-tee-but-sure-do-run-good (BB watch: still putting off playing for the Blues and frankly, who can blame him). Two AB props out for the Chiefs mitigated by the return to play of Damian “smiling lightning” McKenzie after tearing his ACL last year.
In a rare instance of a NH player moving south, former Ulster wing Sevu Reece bagged an early brace for the ‘Saders as they looked to spank the Chiefs early. Mooloo fans well accustomed to ringing their cowbells for a Reece score appeared flummoxed as the early going had the makings of a drubbing, with both of his scores coming in the opening 20. ‘Saders dominated 1H possession and territory but could not do much with it, as if parking their army in Acre before milling about, doing nothing, and conceding a pilfer to Sam Cane. Gatland’s influence at the fore as the Chiefs defense held firm, finishing the half with Havili soiling himself at the tee for what should have been easy points.
Damian McKenzie, the most exciting player in rugby (Hodges’ suggestion of Alex Goode is wrong and he knows it is wrong [though I’d entertain that Cheslin Kolbe is in the same plane of existence]), returned for the first time and gave the world a sweet, sweet hit of the good stuff that we had been missing. Like a dealer returning to service his clients after a holiday in Habana (Cuba not Bryan), DMac served up electric pace, a try saving tackle, a try assist, and a nifty flick pass. I am already drawing a vein for next week’s dose.
Second half saw halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi beat Joe Moody at the edge of a ruck for a try and a moment of magic from the other Chiefs halfback, Brad Weber. Brad Weber, a one test All Black who was recalled for last year’s world cup after a scintillating Super season, somehow managed to reach his 5’8″ frame around two ‘Sader defenders to spring Sean Wainui free for a try so open even Baker could have walked in without being caught from behind. A spectacular try that Wainui knew was the sole work of Webby. As Justin Marshall noted on air, “take a bow, Brad Weber”. It’s in the highlights, look it up on youtube you lazy fucks.
Around the league, undefeated Stormers won a nap-fest against the Blue Balls (as they have not yet scored a try in 160′ of play). Mark Telea made the world forget about Reiko Ioane’s injury as he ran in a hat trick against Michael Hooper and the 14 least drunk guys they found on the streets in Sidney that could fit into kit. Landers stink, the Brumbles are brumbling, nobody cares about Lions/Reds, and the Hurricanes! The Hurricanes, absolutely dire in week 1, sneaking out a last gasp victory away to the Jaguares. Even an attempted intervention by the Argentine TMO about a suspected forward pass was waved away by Rasti and good on him for it. Roger Goodell himself could not have taken this game away from the visitors (yes I’m still mad about the fake news “tuck rule”, no I will not let it go).
Above the equator, I have looked at not a single score but am confident the bad guys won. Romain Ntamack is the rugby equivalent of Andrew Luck: class player on a team that largely underwhelms and looks like his face came from the Skyrim “randomize features” character generator. Better luck on your next respawn, bud.
Up next, Chiefs travel to Japan to take on the Moondoggies. Aaron Cruden rests his ears, ALB and Sam Cane also to take a reprieve. Which means but one thing: a surely larger-than-otherwise dose of Dmac, in the expansive and open Japanese game. Ahh, I have a boner already.
Until next time see you at fitness, up yours, and I hope you enjoy (but don’t really care if you do or do not).