With points already on the board, we welcome round two of Australian Super Rugby! We say hello to the Rebels into action for the first time in Super Rugby AU, they travel away to face the Reds at Suncorp on Friday night. Following that on Saturday the Brumbies continue their title defence as they host the Waratahs who have plenty to improve heading into round two. Lets check out how it went down….
REDS 23 – 21 REBELS
If your looking for a game of highlights, maybe you should just stick to south of the ditch because there was very few highlights from the two sides in the opening half of this game.
Penalties were the order of the day despite conditions being fairly dry, albeit a little dewy in hand. The Rebels were the better side of the match for the first half and were happy to take the threes when they could, taking two shots at goal to lead 6-0 midway through the half.
The Reds decided they would join the scoreboard with a penalty of their own and then allowed the Rebels to reinstate the six point lead soon after.
Points scoring wasn’t what you should be looking for if you turn into this match at a later date, instead look out for the defence. Hunter Paisami and Pone Fa’amausili were of particular interest to watch as they put some serious hurt on the ball carriers through the game.
The half drew towards to painful end both sides added another penalty each to make it 12-6, but the Reds were looking frustrated at their inability to break down the Rebels defence and their attack not working as well as it did last week. They looked quite disjointed in attacked and needed the half time break, unlike their opponents who were quite happy with the situation.
The Reds had a clear plan to run the Rebels around the field and tired them out with the lack of game time last week, but at half time the Rebels looked OK with a 12-6 lead.
The gameplan has not changed for the visitors as they continue to plug the threes at any chances but it takes almost twenty minutes of the second half until we finally see the Reds break through. Gifted field position with a lineout from a penalty and the forwards go to work. Driving from ten out and even getting the support of the backline in the maul for the last meter or two. Alex Mafi credited with his second of the season
The Reds chances took a turn for the worst just before the hour mark, despite being hard on attack, turning down threes and going to corner for more points, Feao Fotuaika gets a straight red cards for an illegal clean out with no arms and at the head. You would think that may change the game, but if anything the Reds step it up more, quickly after the card the seven man Reds pack destroys an eight man Rebels scrum! Its far from over.
Its a game of three points only as both sides continue to revert back to the posts at any chance. Suliasi Vunivalu added some spark off the bench in his first Rugby Union appearance, but its the errors that are costing the Reds from finishing this game off into the final ten minutes.
Alex Mafi almost produces the magic moment of the match after Paisami regathers a pin point James O’Connor chip over the defence and fires it to a clean running Mafi who goes right to the corner to only spill the ball crashing over the line after a despite tackle from Hodge. Rebels survive again.
It finally breaks! The Reds finally take the lead with just TWO minutes remaining! Its spectacular to see a team with a red carded player turn down a shot at goal to kick to the corner. They set up the maul and decoy the wrap with Mafi again who splits the defence with support all around him and charges over, making no mistake this time and the conversion give the Reds the lead for the first time.
If you thought the Reds could survive the last two minutes without another twist, think again! Paisami puts in a high shot with the clock ticking over the 80th minute to allow Matt To’omua a chance to turn that two point deficit into a lead and a victory with the final kick of the game. With just one miss in the night and a forty meter shot, To’omua painfully strikes it slightly wide to give the Reds what seemed a very unlikely victory after how the Rebels played on the night. Only question, how did he miss!? Been so strong off the tee all night, that pressure…..
The Reds were hot favourites to clean this match up with ease but the Rebels put in an incredible display and should have taken home the spoils in this one. It was similar standouts to last week for the Reds, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Angus Blyth and Seru Uru top my list of performers. For the Rebels, first game up and as a squad defensively they were amazing. Indevidually however, Matt To’omua despite the final shot at goal, Richard Hardwick and Cabous Eloff were the top shelf players.
BRUMBIES 61 – 10 WARATAHS
There was a lot of talk in the build up to this game that the Waratahs couldn’t possibly be as bad as they were against the Reds for two weeks in a row. Well, to save you all a lot of reading about how each try was scored, lets just recap this match as simply as possible. Things were worse….
The Brumbies scored four first half tries and the scariest part about all these tries they scored was the varied the styles were. Its not the Brumbies just maul every try over, oh no, they actually produced some backline magic and as usual dominated in the pack. The score line looked worse for the Waratahs but in actual fact they seemed to play a bit better than in their opener, if anything it was the defence that was consistently optional. On attack they looked a little more committed, but overall, the Force will be the ones licking their lips for next weekend when they meet the Waratahs.
Out of the opening four tries, only the forth was as you would expect, a driving maul from the lineout scored by the hooker Connal McInerney. The opener was an open play Brumbies try, the forwards just pounding away until Rob Valentini was the lucky one to nudge over.
The second try was like a rare gem for the Brumbies, with their decoy forwards running constant phase after phase tight lines with playmakers behind the completely bewilder the defence. After a few phases making tidy meters, the ball made it was out to the wing where Mack Hansen was all alone unmarked to stroll over for his first try.
If you thought that was weird for the Brumbies, how about a lineout maul try scored by the fly half?! Yep, that happened too. Noah Lolesio grabbed try number three sitting at the back of the maul. What goes on at these Brumbies training sessions that a fly half knows what to do in that situation!?
In between all the Waratahs doom and gloom, there was a single bright light. That was the try to Harry Johnson-Holmes. It required a long build up of possession and getting into the right part of the field was half the battle for the visitors. Once they were in the twenty two, the young pack took over and raging Harry blasted into the points.
Brumbies led 26-10 at the break, the home side just demanding more of the same in the second, whereas the Waratahs really just wanted to get outta there….
Second half got much…. much much worse. Five unanswered tries to the home team and the visitors had clearly lost their will the try and stem the flow.
The fifth try went to scrum half Nic White who had the honour of receiving some of the worst defence seen in Super Rugby AU. Picking up off the back of a scrum, he did a twirl or two and left hands grasping at thin air.
Try six just went to prove the Waratahs were not learning from their mistakes. Mack Hansen scoring almost a replay of his first try. Good running options in positions early and a wide open Mack with try number two to his name.
Lochlan Lonergan came into the field as the hooker replacement and it seemed only fair as a Brumbies hooker he got a try too. Lineout. Maul. Try. Simple.
Now the Brumbies were comfortable with this gargantuan lead, they felt maybe the backs deserved to show some flair. Len Ikitau has been one very impressive player so far and his creativity to this try was class. Demanding attention from the defence he was able to guide a delecate little grubber through the line for that man, Mack Hansen again who went in for his third try and I think was yet to be touched in scoring any of them. Remarkable night for Hansen.
Some may forgive you for thinking eight tries was enough, but we haven’t mentioned Tom Banks yet… A usual try scorer for the Brumbies. Well he did get the ninth and final try of the night just a couple of minutes from the end and it was the ultimate final kick in the guts for the Waratahs. Thinking they may be in for the final say, the Brumbies intercept the ball just out from their own line and break down the right. Recycling the ball almost instantly or offloading off the floor, the movement never seemed to end. For the Waratahs, the defence never got back to the ball. Tom Banks finished it all off to the relief of the Waratahs who were thankful it was still only double figures…..
Final score was huge, 61-10, a 51 point victory, that hurts the points differential. Its hard to pick a Brumbies standout, they whole side was amazing. Again Cayden Neville impressed me and I’m enjoying the work of Len Ikitau in midfield. For the Waratahs, ah boy…. its tough isnt it? Carlo Tizzano again was superb, putting in a huge defensive shift, sadly other have to tackle too but he was amazing again and Lachlan Swinton has been standing out for the Waratahs as well but just not enough as a unit.
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