SUPER RUGBY AU – Round Eight Review

We learnt a lot this weekend about how Super Rugby AU would wind up come the end of the regular season. Two big results for the winning sides that secured their place in the finals of the competition. The Force hosted the Reds and the Brumbies went up against the Waratahs who were fighting for one of those finals spots. Lets take a look at how the action went….

FORCE 5 vs 57 REDS

The Force were back at “home” this week while still searching for that opening win of the season. The Reds were in town after an incredible defensive win against the Rebels last weekend. Will the boys in blue get themselves a W on the board or will it be business as usual from the Reds cashing in on whats being deemed an automatic.

Both sides had good periods on attack during the opening fifteen minutes but neither side looked like getting over the line. The Reds were denied a try to Taniela Tupou who crashed over close to the line after penalties got the Reds close.

Once denied, the Reds took the penalty to the sideline and a nice lineout move put Filipo Daugunu clean through a hole and in under the sticks for the opening points.

It was a half of injuries for both sides in the open forty minutes with a number of players getting HIA’s, lengthy injury breaks or requiring replacements.

The Reds were by this stage fully in control of the game, as the Force were struggling to get forward progression on attack and were forced to make decisions that lost possession, often kicking the ball away aimlessly, hoping for a good outcome.

The Reds grabbed their second try and the second for Filipo Daugunu. It was all created by some slick, quick hands from the Reds backline offloading the ball in the tackle and drawing more than one defender. The score up to 12-0 now and ominous signs early for the Force.

With the half wearing down the Reds opted to tick the scoreboard over, James O’Connor chipping a penalty to send the lead up to fifteen and put even more pressure on the Force.

With time near up on the clock, Tupou split through a Thor sized hole in the defence and thundered near thirty meters before dropping the ball in the tackle just one meter short, a fitting highlight to end the half at 15-0.

The Force fired out of the blocked quick smart putting a penalty just a few meters from the Reds line just a minute into the game. The lineout maul was came quickly after and the Force charged their way from quite a few meters out and as we have learnt from a good maul, any hooker worth his weight will be waiting at the back. Andrew Ready was there to grab the five.

The Reds put the pressure straight back on. Fraser McReight was denied another Reds try for a double movement on the ground but the pressure was proving too much for the Force who suffered the first yellow card of the weekend when Kieran Longbottom was send to the bin for collapsing the maul. Reds hot on attack and placing scrum after scrum just five meters out.

The constant pressure finally broke the Force. The attacking swinging left and right before finally O’Connor took out two defenders and offloaded to McReight who got things done the second time of asking.

Things are starting to get out of control for the Force, Tate McDermott shows just what he brings to the Reds, quickly sniping down a very narrow blind side channel just inside the Force half, slaps down a cracker of a left foot step and leaves the fullback grasping a thin air for a brilliant solo try by the scrum half.

Oh now hes just showing off! McDermott takes a quick tap after the Reds pick up a ruck penalty and off he goes, sidestepping defenders for fun, breaking ankles and not caring to take names. Beating at least five defenders on his way to scoring his second try and again, solo brilliance from McDermott! The scoreline has ballooned out now, 36-5 to the Reds.

The Reds are just rubbing salt into the wounds of the Force now. James O’Connor grabbed the try this time but it really was a quality team effort from the Reds. Tupou playing like a midfielder running in open spaces and just that ability to keep the ball alive and find supporting players is far too much for the Force who are completely out of their depth now.

McDermott was denied his hattrick try soon after, but it was a sign that the floodgates were well and truly open. Another two tries were added from Bryce Hegarty and Tuaina Tualima in the final few minutes of the match to blow the score way out past the fifty point mark as the Force just had nothing left in the tank.

The Reds far too good in the end, withstood the Force pressure and then fired back with plenty of their own. Taniela Tupou in devastating form, Tate McDermott was electric throughout and the backrow was a major threat for the Reds at the breakdown. The best part of this performance from the Reds is that they played their own game regardless of how their opponents were playing. We often see teams get dragged down into a poor game from a weaker side but the Reds were ruthless this weekend.

Again, not much to celebrate for the Force, just the one try and plenty of errors in defence. The Force suffered nearly twice the amount of penalties and missed over forty tackles. The usual suspects stood out, Stander, Kahui, Ralston, and were clearly trying to drag their team up but with no success. The attack was blunt and kicking aimless. One of the few times they have really let the heads drop in the season.


An age old Australian derby between these two sides has this round of Super Rugby AU set up for a grandstand finish to wrap up the round.

It was a messy start to the round that saw both side struggle to get into the rhythm and shape but the Brumbies found it and instantly changed that game. The short kicking plan found the Waratahs short.

That’s how the Brumbies found their way on the scoreboard too.

Ryan Lonergan and Andy Muirhead both getting on the end of kicks, a little grubber for Lonergan and a cross field cracker for Muirhead. The game plan was working a treat and the Brumbies were cashing in with two tries inside a ten minute period.

The Waratahs get on the board in between the tries, Will Harrison grabbing a couple of penalties before and after Muirhead’s try.

The Waratahs often never look like scoring tries but with the half running to an end, they grabbed what should go down as one of their best of the season. Jack Dempsey grabs the points for dotting it down in the left corner, but it was some incredible work from hooker Connal McInerney, normally used to sitting at the back of mauls close to the sideline, this week he was brushing defenders aside and offloading like a champion in his combination with Dempsey.

That late try for the Waratahs brought things close at the break with the Brumbies only just leading by a point, 12-11.

The Brumbies fired out of the blocks in the second half, grabbing their third try of the game just a few minutes into the half. Irae Simone delivering a huge floated pass out to the left wing where big number eight Pete Samu was sitting and waiting. A quick in and out followed by a powerful drive over the tackle of Alex Newsome, saw him rumble into the corner.

The turning point of this match into the Brumbies favour was the ten minute period between the 50th to 60th minutes. Tom Wright joined the party but it was Nic White with the vital hand in both tries off the bench, despite the class fifty minutes from Lonergan.

The first try was simple a good scrum half flat fast pass close to the line, cutting out the defenders and allowed the fast feet of Wright to skip of in the productive left corner.

An overthrown lineout allowed White to once again run the show. With a bit of space and time on his hands, another fire pass to Irae Simone put him behind the defence and put his speedy winger away in the corner once again. White and Wright, it was game over for the Waratahs.

The scoreline had blown out the Waratahs but Pete Samu wasn’t done just yet. Featuring on the wing more this weekend than his whole career in Brumbies colours and it made a massive difference to him impact. When he received the ball, he had a good four to five defenders between him and the line and just five meters to work with. Well, Samu, he took them all for a ride with him down the chalk. Stop him if you can, they just couldn’t and it was a fitting finish for the big number eight.

It was a clinical display from the Brumbies in the second half, controlled the tempo of the game, shut the Waratahs out of any good attacking areas and just forced them out of the match. Pete Samu was the obvious choice as the standout player, two fantastic tries in the match and was near impossible to stop at times. Spending time on the wing against much smaller men had him looking like a monster!

A solid first forty by the Waratahs was blown away by the clinical Brumbies. Jack Dempsey had a strong game for the ‘Tahs, leading in meters run for the side and attacking weapon. Joey Walton keep developing with his game time at this level as well, looking much better compared to his first few matches. Plenty to work on for the Waratahs if they want that finals spot and next weekend is going to be critical for that to happen.

Previews and reviews are right here Behind The Posts for each and every round of Super Rugby AU! Rugby is back in Australia! Let me know your thoughts on the action this weekend in the comments and thanks for stopping by Behind The Posts. If you would like to have your say here, get in touch on the contact page today!


SUPER RUGBY AU – Round Eight Preview

Super Rugby AU has the full spotlight of Southern Hemisphere rugby fans from this weekend forward. The round kicks underway when the travelling Western Force are at “home” against the resurgent Queensland Reds on Friday night. On Saturday evening, the Brumbies, who are actually one of the few sides who can play at home, will host the NSW Waratahs. Lets check out the two matches…..


Its been a tough old season in the Force’s return to Super Rugby AU. They are still yet to pick up a victory but with the rounds quickly running out its tough to see them grabbing the win this weekend. As the season has worn on, the Force run on side has been lifting in strength as injuries return to fitness. The concern for the force this weekend is the absence of the key back rowers, Henry Stowers and Tevin Ferris. Brynard Stander remains at number eight but his combination that developed over the season has been the key to their success.

The front row looks much stronger again with the additions of Pek Cowan and former Red Andrew Ready starting together. The Force have developed as a side who fire out of the blocks the entertain and ultimately fall away to a team who has some idea how to construct a full eighty minute game with most of these changes.

Of course we cant wrap up with the Force without talking about the impact the midfield combination has had on this team. Kyle Godwin has been dragged up from his mediocre performances by Richard Kahui. Those two together work in tandem very well and not only added those stacks of experience but also a belief within the squad with how they play.

The biggest missing name in the Reds lineup is the injured Hunter Paisami, which makes a little bit of a mess with their midfield. What I thought would be the obvious answer is to put Jordan Petaia into thirteen and plug the right wing from the bench of Flook or Hardy. Instead, Josh Flook has come straight into midfield with a direct swap, leaving Petaia out on the wing.

With the Force mixing up their back row options and leaving out the big names that have served so well, it gives a huge advantage to the Reds who have named their three standouts in those same positions. Captain Liam Wright, Fraser McReight and impressive number eight Harry Wilson will again stack the back of the very impressive looking Reds pack.

Two weeks ago the Reds had a nightmare weekend against the Waratahs, easily the lowest point of their season so far. The lessons must be learnt from that and the response that we saw, particularly on defence against the Rebel was a welcome return. Brad Thorn wont let this side sit around on performances like two weeks ago, now it goes back to that main word we keep talking about, consistency.

RESULT – Reds by 13


Is facing the Waratahs an easy win like the Force has been? Or is it a real top of the table clash. We really don’t know. The Waratahs are a side that can step it up or completely fall to pieces. Against the Brumbies however, I expect we will see their better rugby rise again.

The Brumbies have been some exciting looking selections to their side too for this match.

For week after week, Tevita Kuridrani has just ambled his way through the season as part of a good performing side without really making an impact. That ends this weekend as his place in the side is gone and he makes way for another similar player from the wing in Solomone Kata. Now we see if Kuridrani has been sub par this season. Kata is fast, powerful and difficult to tackle. Moving him in off the wing will give him more ball in more traffic and look out if the Waratahs don’t make their defensive plays on him.

The Brumbies have mixed up their halves combination again too, reuniting a Junior Wallabies partnership with Ryan Lonergan and Bayley Kuenzle in the halves together. A new one for the Brumbies but I expect the two youngsters will know each others game well from previous encounters.

The Brumbies have the glorious ability to make changes like these while still keeping a strong lineup, which just goes to shop the depth this team possesses.

The work has been set for the sporadic Waratahs. This is not a game they can rest on and beating the front runners like the Brumbies are is the sort of thing the Waratahs thrive on.

Their side in largely unchanged for this weekend which will come as some comfort for the side.

The Waratahs have struggled for points in a lot of games this season, aside from the Reds match, often struggling to convert those try scoring chances and having a lack of flair to score tries.

How do they solve the issues? Well, I’d be on the Waratahs staff if I could answer that, but when the pack often holds its own against opposition then it must be looked at where it goes wrong outside there.

With the young fly half like Will Harrison often leading the charge, his fellow backs are not following his lead. Karmichael Hunt made a small impact on his return but the man who has struck a difference in this team is Jake Gordon.

Gordon is a fully committed player who, as all good scrum halves should, will be following up any half breaks, any chances and be one of the first in support to the ball carrier and that’s why hes often the man celebrating the five pointers.

While I think they Waratahs will be at the party for this match, the Brumbies have been burnt already this season and are a far to professional side to let slip again. The Waratahs have always struggled to put eighty minutes together without have some kid of breakdown during the match, that’s all the Brumbies will need.

RESULT – Brumbies by 6

Previews and reviews are right here Behind The Posts for each and every round of Super Rugby AU! Rugby is back in Australia! Let me know your thoughts on the action this weekend in the comments and thanks for stopping by Behind The Posts. If you would like to have your say here, get in touch on the contact page today!

DEPTH REQUIRED UP NORTH- A Potential 2021 Blues Squad

With the completion of Super Rugby Aotearoa and the Mitre 10 Cup fast approaching, I thought it would be good to have a look into just what each franchise needs. This is the fifth part of a five-part series, today looking at the Blues.


As is well known, the 2020 season was the best for the Blues in a very long time. The Northerners did really well before lockdown, while after they picked up a tidy 2nd place in Super Rugby Aotearoa, finishing with 5-2 record, with their final match at home to the Crusaders being cancelled due to a surge in Coronavirus cases in Auckland. Regardless, how will they shape up next year? Upfront, Ofa Tu’ungafasi was the form prop of the competition, and Sione Mafileo will also join him in sticking around at tighthead next season. Marcel Renata is off-contract, but it would seem best for all parties if he stuck around. At loosehead, Karl Tu’inukuafe looks like he may be getting back to his best, while Alex Hodgman was strong. Ezekiel Lindemuth is the other loosehead on the books, and I have someone in mind who could well end up playing in Auckland in 2021. Rounding out the front row, James Parsons is signed on but is surely coming to the end, while Kurt Eklund will look to continue to build on a very strong season. The Blues still need a long term option, so for that reason, Ray Niua is unlikely to get a new deal. At lock, they are well sorted, with Patrick Tuipolotu leading the contingent, backed up by utility Aaron Carroll, the more experienced Josh Goodhue and Gerry Cowley-Tuioti, while young Sam Darry will be there but it unlikely to see much game time. James Tucker is unlikely to be seen up north again. Loose Forward is another area they are strong, with Dalton Papalii and Blake Gibson being really strong openside options, while Akira Ioane is playing some career-best rugby on the blindside. Tom Robinson will be back from injury and will no doubt want to make an impact, while Tony Lamborn and the most impressive Blues loosie Hoskins Sotutu will look to build on strong seasons. Halfback has not been a strong point for the Blues for a while now, but Finlay Christie seems to have solved this issue and it would not be at all a surprise to see him in as the All Blacks no. 3. Sam Nock should be retained as a backup, while the much-maligned Jonathan Ruru may well be set free. This season, the Blues had five first fives on the books, and with Beauden Barrett heading for a one-year Japanese adventure, and Stephen Perofeta potentially viewed more as a fullback option, all of a sudden the Blues have more to ponder. Otere Black will be the starting first five, while 21-year-old Jack Heighton should get retained. That leaves the curious case of Harry Plummer. Plummer has not kicked on and the likes of the Hurricanes and the Chiefs may look to offer him a new start. However, Leon McDonald seems to be a fan of his and he hails from Auckland, so I would be surprised if he left. Dan Carter will not be seen in blue next year- surely. The midfield is strong but lacks depth. TJ Faiane and Rieko Ioane are a good starting pair, but with Tanielu Tele’a as the only backup they need to do some work. Tele’a is also off-contract but it would be surprising if he did not stay. On the outsides, Caleb Clarke and Mark Telea will look to build on strong debut seasons, while Emoni Narawa showed he can mix it in limited opportunities. Matt Duffie will depart while keeping around Jordan Hyland feels pointless, but if there is nobody outstanding then he is not the worst option. The final player is Jared Page, primarily a fullback he is not signed for next year and at 27 he is yet to have made his way at this level. 

With this squad search, I have a lot more up to date information than the other ones I have written. Contracts have been announced, while a surge in COVID surely means we are in for Super Rugby Aoteatoa round two next year. Finally, on these signings, Blues CEO was quoted by Stuff as saying, “There will be a couple I think who will be a bit of a surprise.” Who are these surprises?


All things considered, I am going to look at one loosehead prop, a hooker, a halfback, a midfielder and two outside backs for the Blues.


Loosehead prop requires little deliberation. The Blues could either decide to keep Ezekiel Lindemuth or potentially and the option I am touting, take a look at everybody’s second favourite rugby player, Rob Cobb. Cobb is an exciting prospect as well as having a great name and listed at 1.89m and 117kg he carries a big frame, something the Blues have liked this year. Despite being from Auckland, he played for Waikato last year and then got a sole appearance for the Chiefs this year. He would struggle for game time for the Blues, and with the Chiefs propping situation very much up in the air, they will face opposition. Still, if they want him I think they could and will get him

Option: Rob Cobb

Hooker is another one that seems reasonably clear cut. Kianu Kereru-Symes is the best available young hooker so they will surely move for him. Currently the understudy to Ash Dixon at Hawkes-Bay he has been touted for big things after captaining the NZ U20 team last year. He would be initially raw but as Codie Taylor and Dane Coles age out, Kereru-Symes and Aumua look the best rakes around. Kereru-Symes can also play prop which shows his size. There are certainly worse players to learn under than Ash Dixon at the moment especially. He would be a very shrewd addition if they could get him and they are unlikely to face much serious competition, with most other sides have plenty of hookers locked in. 

Option: Kianu-Kereru-Symes

Halfback is a lot less clear-cut. With Finlay Christie the likely number one and Sam Nock poised to play backup, they will still likely look to secure another scrumhalf. The Highlanders, the Crusaders, the Hurricanes and the Chiefs either have or seemingly have all three halfbacks locked in for 2021. The Chiefs are the only one up in the air with Brad Weber yet to re-sign. I do not expect him to move to the Blues by any means, but who will the surprises be? There is no obvious option that jumps out, so will the Blues re-sign Ruru? A slow pass is what holds Ruru back, and surely there will be a halfback in Auckland club rugby who makes the Mitre 10 Cup squad who can move past him. I believe the Blues will find someone, somewhere. 

Option: M10 Cup Prospect

In midfield, the Blues will look for a midfielder, most likely a second five although they might get a centre as well. Of all Super Rugby midfielders, only Anton Lienert-Brown appears to not be locked in. If he does moves, then you would expect that it would not be a move to the Blues. So once again they will look to the level below. Whoever joins, needs to be young and hungry, except for one man I am touting for second five. I will describe the centre first. Playing under Rieko Ioane they will not get much game time, but if there is an injury they could be thrust into the limelight. Could a loan from the UK be an option again? I don’t think so. Maybe they could nab a returning star but ultimately I feel this position is best suited for a younger guy. With the Blues running the opposite style to the history of NZ rugby, with the big centre and the finesse at second-five, then Julian Savea possibly would not suit the style, although he could play centre. Yes, I am suggesting the bus should park in Auckland. Now living in New Zealand’s biggest city, I expect to see Savea in a North Harbour or Auckland shirt during the Mitre 10 Cup. Savea could add some much need experience to the Blues as they strive for the top. This will be laughed off by many, but unlikely to start many games there are worse backups around.

Option: Julian Savea and M10 Cup Prospect

Finally, the Blues will look to strengthen out wide. Manasa Mataele is one option to be brought in. Mataele is often forgotten and he will surely depart the Crusaders in search of game time. The Highlanders, Hurricanes and Chiefs could all well feel he is worth pursuing, but none could guarantee him playtime. It certainly would be good for the Blues. The other two guys can afford to be a little younger. Ideally, one could cover fullback. There are not a lot of obvious options once more, so this could be a bit unknown. Could they offer Tevita Nabura a second stab at Super Rugby? Maybe Kris Kuindrani? Neither of these feel very likely, so they will likely give one of Jared Page and Jordan Hyland a second crack. I suggest Page at 27 is the better option. Finally, Jordan Trainor could well be offered a second chance by the Blues if he can put together a strong Mitre 10 Cup.

Option: Re-sign Jared Page, Jordan Trainor and Manasa Mataele


After a strong showing in 2021, The Blues will be looking to build depth, as well as adding touches here and there. I have suggested Rob Cobb and Kianu Kereru-Symes could be signings that set them up for future success, while young halfback should also be in the offing. A youngster and Julian Savea could well build some decent depth, as they look to kick on, while Jordan Trainor and Manasa Mataele could come in and challenge for a starting birth. Finally, Jared Page could be offered a second chance.

2021 SQUAD

Karl Tu’inukuafe, Alex Hodgman, Rob Cobb, Kurt Eklund, James Parsons, Kianu Kereru-Symes, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Sione Mafileo, Marcel Renata, Patrick Tuipulotu, Aaron Carroll, Gerrard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Jacob Pierce, Sam Darry, Akira Ioane, Tony Lamborn, Tom Robinson, Hoskins Sotutu, Blake Gibson, Dalton Papalii, Finlay Christie, Sam Nock, M10 Cup Prospect, Otere Black, Stephan Perofeta, Jack Heighton, Harry Plummer, TJ Faiane, Rieko Ioane, Tanielu Tele’a, Julian SaveaM10 Cup Prospect Second Five, Caleb Clarke, Mark Tela, Emoni Narawa, Jared Page, Jordan Trainor, Manasa Mataele

So this is the end of the series. I have found it rather intriguing to see who needs what and who they could get, as the season has ended expect things to start to move fast, as a lot of these articles already seem outdated! Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts or a question!

If you enjoyed this, feel free to give me a follow on Twitter @Nicholasfriedl3


Super Rugby Aotearoa came to a close this weekend with sadly only one match for the final round with the Blues vs Crusaders match cancelled due to the Auckland lockdown. We did however, get to see the Highlanders host the Hurricanes behind the closed doors of Forsyth Barr Stadium which was a entertaining fixture. Lets take a look at the weekends action……


It wasn’t to be the spectacle we were expecting the close out this fantastic tournament but hopefully it could do some justice to the final weekend, albeit sadly without fans in the stands.

The Highlanders had the better start to the match with a decent period of possession, but it was the Hurricanes who were the first to strike the scoreboard with one of their first touches of the ball. Jordie Barrett again to spark it out on the left wing, he is an expert in finding support and picking great passes. Jamie Booth was delivered the ball back toward to middle of the park and delayed the play enough for his support to catch up and eventually use the numbers out wide for Vince Aso to score on the right.

The Highlanders struck back very quickly after a run of penalties getting them deep in Hurricanes territory. Quickly recycled phases caught the Hurricanes defence short out wide and Mitch Hunt fooled the rushing defence to get in behind and gift and easy run in for replacement winger Ngane Punivai to tie it back up.

The Hurricanes have two tried disallowed for being in touch and a forward pass when the forward get a bit fancy. Third times a charm though as the Hurricanes attack from inside their own twenty two, Jackson Garden-Bachop draws and offloads to Peter Umaga-Jensen who once again has Booth on hand who uses his pace and step to beat the cover defence to score under the sticks.

As they have done all night, the Highlanders trike right back! Of course its how they have done it all season long. From the lineout just ten meters out its that usual play that has Ash Dixon smashing it off the back and planting down the instant reply! This really is a cracking contest of attack at all costs and disregard all else.

An entertaining first half that could have seen the Hurricanes up by a lot more. Its been a fun game, the players are out to have a blast where it all about entertainment. Tries only allowed, 14-14 at half time.

Josh Ioane is not interested in tries in the second half though, an early chance to take three off the tee and the lead is taken and just like that, things start to get serious….

The Highlanders are really stepping up the pace as they dominate the opening period of the second half. Michael Collins support lines finally paid off as a great offload from Jona Nareki set his free through the middle of the park. Add in a little bit of power to keep away the covering defence and the Highlanders extend their lead!

The Hurricanes get their third try of the afternoon disallowed from a lineout set piece for obstructing a defender as Chase Tiatia sliced straight through the defence all a little too easily. TMO being kept busy today.

The Highlanders are dominating the second half so far and go back to the lineout maul when gifted with another oppitunity. The Hurricanes mess up defending it terrible and not only watch Ash Dixon crash over but also lose Ardie Savea to the bin for coming in from the side and stopping the ball being placed down, a free seven pointer for the Highlanders who see their lead rocket up to 31-14 and a man advantage just before the hour mark.

Despite being a man down, the Hurricanes manage some possision down into the Highlanders territory and start to look dangerous. A loose carry puts an end to that which Aaron Smith picks up and releases Mitch Hunt from eighty meters out and he shows some burners like we have not seen from him before, to outpace the defence for the full length of the field to give a huge counter punch to extend the lead even more!

With fifteen men back on the field, the Hurricanes start to get back into the game. Working into good position on attack, they mix things up with a little grubber in behind the Highlanders defence. Mitch Hunt makes a hash of covering it in his in goal, it bobbles free for Peter Umaga-Jensen to clean up just before the line. Another Hurricanes seven, does that breath life back in the match at 38-21 with eight to play?

Its not to be for the Hurricanes! The Highlanders hold things much tighter for the final stanza of the match and claim themselves a quality 38-21 victory. Full of entertainment, tries, line breaks and excitement. A packed Forsyth Barr would have sounded spectacular, but sadly that wasn’t to be.

The home side were extremely impressive during the second half after a tight opening forty minutes. It was a great occasion for Ash Dixon in his 100th match and Aaron Smith who cracked up an extraordinary 150th Super Rugby cap with the Highlanders. They produced a strong squad game but their real strength for the first time this season came from the bench. Manaaki Selby-Rickit had his best game in a Highlanders shirt. Michael Collins looked solid in midfield and the team continuity was the best its been all season.

It was a festival type atmosphere from the Hurricanes who seemed to be out for a bit of fun to finish their season, score some tries and have a blast. Jordie Barrett was again a standout and Scott Scrafton is a glue to the Hurricanes pack but the real star was Jamie Booth. Booth and Finlay Christie at the Blues have been the best performing scrum halves in this competition and Booth for me has done enough to be a starting nine somewhere, I doubt at the Hurricanes but he needs to be playing first team rugby.


What could have been the greatest game of our Super Rugby Aotearoa season, has been torn away at the last minute thanks for COVID yet again. With Auckland back in lock down, this game was never going to go ahead.

Lets hope if anything, this fires the Blues on to better things next season, whatever format that may be, and to get themselves up to that Crusaders level. Lets hope so.

A no result draw was the ending of the season, but just imagine if the Highlanders had won last weekend and this was the decider and it couldn’t be played…. imagine that…. We wouldn’t hear the end of it…. The Crusaders the rightful champions of whats been the best season of Super Rugby in quite some time.

We can all agree though, this game would have been a ripper! Maybe in 2021, boy it better be an improvement of a year…

Previews and reviews are right here Behind The Posts for each and every round of Super Rugby Aotearoa! Rugby is back! Let me know your thoughts on the action this weekend in the comments and Thanks for stopping by Behind The Posts. If you would like to have your say here, get in touch on the contact page today!


So, Flake has had a few issues, so you are stuck with me for the final Super Rugby Aotearoa preview of the season! With a lot of uncertainty surrounding the games, there is a lot of doubt of whether they will go ahead, but alas. On Saturday, the Highlanders will look to end their season on a high as they host the Hurricanes, while the champions-elect in the Crusaders, travel to Eden Park to clash with the Blues.

Of the two games, this is more likely to go ahead. With the Dunedin and Wellington region sitting in ‘Level 2,’ this game is set to go ahead- without fans. 15,000 tickets have been sold for the clash, so the Southerners will be keen for a move back to ‘Level 1’ today.

These two sides have met just the once this year, five weeks ago in Wellington. That game was won 17-11 by the Hurricanes, although the Hurricanes were a lot more dominant then the scoreline suggested. The game was marred by something questionable reffing decisions, but ultimately the Canes were too good on that occasion.

Under the roof, the weather is not an issue, so this should be a really exciting affair, as both sides look to throw it around- I think there could be quite a few points in this one.

The Highlanders sit 2-5 but will feel that they could have won at least one more game in Super Rugby Aotearoa, but ultimately a 4th place finish is better than most expected. Since being 31-7 down against the Chiefs, the side has really turned a corner, through a switch of game plan that has seen them hold a lot more of the ball, as they throw the ball around the backline.

On a five-game winning streak, the Hurricanes will undoubtedly fancy themselves to pick up another win, to end a very strong season. Can they do it? TJ Perenara will miss this clash, which will hurt the Hurricanes, while due to a variety of reasons their bench does not look as strong this week. They will need their big players to stand-up

Something a bit different, I am going to give a player to watch for each team and an in-depth prediction.

After coming against the Chiefs, Josh McKay has been superb for the Highlanders. On attack, he was one who sparked it against the Chiefs, while he was very solid on defence against the Blues and the Crusaders. I think he might fancy himself a try or two this week.

With Perenara out, I feel Jamie Booth is poised for a big game. He actually made his Super Rugby bow for the Southerners, as a sprightly 20-year-old, so he has history. Someone who never stops running, with the heart of a lion, I don’t think the Hurricanes will miss Perenara as much as some think they will.

In terms of the game, I think there will be lots of tries and lots of points. It would not be at all a surprise to me if both sides crack 30 points. I think both sides will look to throw it around and we will be treated to some great tries. With Ash Dixon bringing up the ton and Aaron Smith the 150, I see the home side getting it done 36-33.

RESULT- Highlanders by 3

With Auckland sitting at ‘Level 3,’ currently, this game will not go ahead. In all likelihood, with the increasing number of COVID cases, this will not change and this game likely won’t proceed. So is there any point of doing a preview? Of course there is!

If the game goes ahead, then we will be robbed of seeing a full Eden Park, as the doors will almost definitely be shut. A sunny afternoon is forecast, so there will no issues with rain. The Blues may well have more hunger for this one, so expect them to turn up and be counted.

When these two sides last met, both were unbeaten, and many fancied the Blues to cause an upset in Christchurch- they did not. They put everything out there, but the Crusaders got it done 26-15. That hurt the Blues dearly, as they then slumped to a loss to the Hurricanes, which means this game is a dead rubber affair.

The Blues bounced back from those two defeats, with wins over the Chiefs and then arguably their performance of the season in Dunedin, with a bonus-point win over the Highlanders. They go into this one, hungry to end their season on a high after a superb showing.

Already crowned champions, the Crusaders might lack some motivation for this weekend, but after the drama with the trophy and a Scott Robertson speech, you would expect their motivation will be as strong as ever. They will want to silence anyone going on about a final, with an assured win in New Zealand’s biggest city.

Who are we looking out for in this game? This is quite tough as neither side has been named for the clash, but I will give it my best shot.

Slightly boring, but Hoskins Sotutu may well return from injury this week. Once the form player in the competition, he has ended up missing nearly half of the Aotearoa season with an injury. He will have a huge point to prove, to show that his form was not just a flash in the pan. Many will also hope for a debut from one Daniel Carter.

Having already won the title, then you could not blame Scott Robertson if he shuffles the pack. With that in mind, then I believe 20-year-old Leicester Fainga’anuku could well take many by storm this weekend. With buckets of potential, an injury to one of the Crusaders wingers next season could see him explode. I expect him to start and score a try this weekend.

This game is unlikely to go ahead, but if it does I think the game could be intriguing. With many of the players not used to playing in front of a decent-sized crowd, then I feel some might take a while to get going in the match. The Crusaders are known for slow starts, and in an empty stadium, away from home, with nothing to play for, I think it could well cost them, as they fall 26-22.

RESULT- Blues by 4

Hopefully, this was informative enough for you! As we head back into the unknown in New Zealand, stay safe, while the same goes for everyone worldwide.

If you enjoyed this, feel free to give me a follow on Twitter @Nicholasfriedl3

SUPER RUGBY AU- Round Seven Preview

So, Flake has had a few issues, so you are stuck with me for this week’s Super Rugby AU preview! As we head into the second half of the competition, the table-topping Brumbies hit the bye, leaving the door open for the Rebels to move into top spot this Saturday when they travel to Queensland to play Brad Thorn’s Reds. The Friday night game, says the winless Force ‘host’ the Waratahs. Let’s crack into the games!

FORCE vs WARATAHS – Cbus Super Stadium
In rather peculiar, yet not unusual circumstances, the Western Force will be hosting the NSW Waratahs in Queensland this weekend. The Tahs’ sit third on the table and had struggled until they burst into life with a 45-12 thumping over the Reds. The Force, sit 0-4, although they will feel they have deserved better than that.

Last time these two sides met, the Force stormed out a 14-0 lead before surrendering 23-14.
The Force will have felt they should have one that, and the fast start continued, repeated itself the following week before they tasted defeat against the Reds. The Waratahs have improved since then and you sense the Force have a rather large mountain to climb this weekend.

The game itself should be an exciting one, as both look to pedal to the medal. Some dodgy weather around kickoff, however, might mean a kicking battle is on show, which could well suit the experience of Ian Prior and Jono Lance. If the Waratahs start fast then the Force could be in for a long evening.

The Waratahs head into this one on the back of their surprising win over the Reds last week. While some predicted the result, it was the scoreline that shocked most people as they raced out to a 45-0 lead thanks to a Jake Gordon hattrick. The Waratahs worked well as a unit, showing what they were capable of. Young Will Harrison looks like a talent and a half…

As for the Force, they might be targeting this one as winnable. Coming into the competition, nothing was expected of them, many thought they were there to merely make up the numbers. They have been better than that. They really could of and should of beat one of if not both the Waratahs and the Reds, while they managed to take the Rebels to SUPER TIME. They are worth a win, and with the experience in the backline, including Richard Kahui this week, they might well be able to beat out the inexperience of the Waratahs.

If the rain comes, the chances of the Force increase. Can they cause, what would be an upset? Jono Lance could easily kick them to victory, but after last week, the Waratahs confidence will be sky-high.

RESULT- Waratahs by 6

REDS vs Rebels – Suncorp Stadium
In what should be the game of the round, the Reds will be looking to pick themselves up after they were resoundingly thumped by the Waratahs, while the Rebels will look to power to the top of the table after they dispatched of the Brumbies 30-12. Can the Reds bounce back or will the Rebels roll on?

When these sides met back in round two, we saw the first-ever Super Time as the sides were locked at 18 all. Unfortunately, Super Time was not so super, as we treated to kick every 30 seconds, as both sides feared giving away a penalty. Barring a 50m penalty attempt from Bryce Hegarty, neither side got close to breaking the deadlock.

With thunderstorms forecast for Saturday, all be it clearing by kick-off, we could be in for an interesting affair. If the field is wet, then the Rebels will likely look to control the game, something they are likely to be able to do better than the inexperienced Reds. Reece Hodge will be licking his lips.

The Rebels go into this one as strong favourites for me, as the Reds may well require a week to pick themselves up after that defeat last week. With the finish line not a million miles away, the lure of top spot and a direct route to the final will surely be enough motivation for them.

The Queenslanders are a young side and they will be in shell shock. Can big Brad Thorn wield some magic, or will this be another car crash on the coast? Unfortunately for them, I am feeling the latter.

RESULT- Rebels by 16

Hopefully, this was informative enough for you! As we head back into the unknown in New Zealand, stay safe, while the same goes for everyone worldwide.

If you enjoyed this, feel free to give me a follow on Twitter @Nicholasfriedl3

HOW LARGE IS THE MOUNTAIN- A Potential 2021 Chiefs Squad

With the Mitre 10 Cup start and the end of Super Rugby Aotearoa fast approaching or finished in the case of the Chiefs, I thought it would be good to have a look into just what each franchise needs. This is the fourth part of a five-part series, today looking at the Chiefs.


The Chiefs have had a disastrous season. 0-8, it doesn’t get much worse than that. They were nowhere near that bad, but it was what it was. Looking ahead to next season, Clayton McMillan will be there at this stage as an interim coach as Warren Gatland heads away with the British and Irish Lions, although with COVID it would not be a surprise to see Gatland still involved in some capacity. Regardless, on to the squad. It would not be at all a surprise to see the current front-rowers all return. That being, Ryan Coxon, Aidan Ross, Reuben O’Neil, Nepo Laulala, Angus Ta’avao, Atu Moli, Bradley Slater, Samasoni Taukei’aho and Nathan Harris, who missed the past season with an injury. At lock, it should also be much of the same, with youngsters Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Laghlan McWhannell and Tupou Vaa’i joining the returning Brodie Retallick and Michael Allardice, although he may potentially depart. Tyler Ardron has already departed. Loose forward is a place where the Chiefs will look to strengthen. Utility forward Mitch Brown should return, while Lachlan Boshier, Sam Cane and Mitch Karpik will continue as strong openside trio. Luke Jacobson will look to get back to his best next season, while Pita Gus Sowakula will look to build on a strong season. It would be a surprise to see Dylan Nel and Adam Thomson retained, so they will need replacing. The Chiefs are fine at halfback, with Brad Weber likely to return along with Lisati Milo-Harris. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will be looking to impress the new coach as he looks to rebuild his career. Similar to the Hurricanes, the Chiefs are very much in the market for first fives. Kaleb Trask has the inside running for the job, as Aaron Cruden and Tiaan Falcon depart for Japan. Moving into the midfield, where Anton Lienert-Brown is the only midfielder secured for next season. Tumua Manu is off to Pau, while Orbyn Leger has seen little game time. Bailyn Sullivan has seen no game time, while Quinn Tupaea has flattered to deceive as the season has gone on. Alex Nankivell started at second-five the last few games, but he is off-contract and I have touted him for a move to the Highlanders, so for the sake of interest, I am going to treat it as if he is leaving. Finally in the outside backs, even though I have mentioned things about him going to the Highlanders, Damian McKenzie will likely be playing for the Chiefs next season. Sean Wainui, Shaun Stevenson, Solomon Alaimalo and Kini Naholo will battle for the spots on the wing, while Sam McNicol might struggle to get a deal. Etene Nanai-Seturo rounds out the current squad, and his situation depends on the Olympics, and whether he decides to plays sevens.


Now that it has been broken down, I believe the Chiefs will be looking for two loose forwards, two first fives and two midfielders.


Starting in the loose, the Chiefs look solid, but there is room for improvement. I feel these two players need to young and hungry. I am specifically looking for a No.8 to challenge Sowakula, and a blindside flanker. The number eight is very obvious for me, young Bay of Plenty player, Ajay Lafaele-Mua. Already mentioned for the Hurricanes, I feel Lafaele-Mua has a big future, so would be a shrewd addition for the Chiefs. Joining him is very much a lottery. Ultimately whoever comes in, won’t start therefore they should look for someone from the Mitre 10 Cup (If it goes ahead). The person who fills the role does not necessarily for the now and could be someone like a Mitch Jacobson who has dabbled at this level before, or it could a returning player like a Dan Pryor. In all likelihood, this will just be a youngster who puts in a strong showing for Waikato. 

Option: Ajay Lafaele-Mua and a M10 Cup Standout

The second target position for the Chiefs will be first five. Whilst Dan Hollinshead and Lincoln McClutchie could be options, I believe they will end up at the Hurricanes and the Highlanders respectively. This leaves just two options, who whilst boring seem fairly realistic. First is Bryn Gatland. Gatland is off-contract and feels nailed on to link up with his father back in his home region. An underrated ball runner and an excellent kicker, he could well end up as the Chiefs starting first five, although Kaleb Trask will have something to say about. The other man who I feel will join them is Fletcher Smith. Likely to leave the Hurricanes, Smith is also an option at fullback. As a third choice first five they could do a lot worse.

Option: Bryn Gatland and Fletcher Smith

Finally, the Chiefs need to bulk up their midfield. With Alex Nankivell potentially departing, the Chiefs need someone who can come in and start in the midfield, preferably a second five, whilst they could also do with another second five to bulk the squad out. With Nankivell potentially bound for the Highlanders, then I feel Rob Thompson could be a decent option to go in the other direction. Thompson has lost his way and his place in the side down south, but he could well be the perfect crash-bash midfielder for Warren Gatland. Whether he plays 12 or 13, it does not matter. Young Daniel Rona could be one to watch for the other spot. Recently out of school, he will be looking to make an impact for Taranaki in the Mitre 10 Cup. If the Chiefs are looking for more experience, then Tei Walden would not be the worst option.

Option: Rob Thompson and Daniel Rona

What if. What if, Damian McKenzie is to depart? I see this as unlikely considering he has a contract, but I have been told the Highlanders are sniffing around and could the draw to go south be too much for the Southlander to resist? What would the Chiefs do? Solomon Alaimalo and Shaun Stevenson have flattered to deceive, so investing in a fullback could be a good option anyway. Could a guy like Jordan Trainor fix the issues? I see that as unlikely, he is already 24, and if you have not cracked it by then, guys don’t tend to crack it. I suggested Josh Moorby could go to the Crusaders, but he is a product of Hamilton Boys, so he could be a decent wildcard, and the lure of game time is something he values. This is merely food for thought, and Moorby could be a solid edition, but I suggested he could end up at the Crusaders, all be it that feels extremely unlikely. Therefore, I am going to name him twice. 

Option: Josh Moorby


The Chiefs can only improve for 2021. Whatever the format, with COVID about they are unlikely to see major squad overhauls. With Ajay Lafaele-Mua and a Mitre Cup standout joining the loose forwards, their young forward pack will back themselves to improve once more. First five is important for the Chiefs, and Bryn Gatland shapes as a low-risk option. He is likely to battle it out with Kaleb Trask and Fletcher Smith in an intriguing battle. Finally, in midfield, Rob Thompson could well be a shrewd signing, while young Daniel Rona could be a good project signing. If Damian McKenzie was to leave, it would certainly throw another spanner into the works

2021 SQUAD

Ryan Coxon, Aidan Ross, Reuben O’Neil, Angus Ta’avao, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Nathan Harris, Samasoni Taukei’aho, Bradley Slater, Brodie Retallick, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Michael Allardice, Tupou Vaa’I, Laghlan McWhannell, Mitch Brown, Luke Jacobson, Lachlan Boshier, Sam Cane, Mitch Karpik, Pita Gus Sowakula, Ajay Lafaele-MuaM10 Cup Standout, Brad Weber, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Lisati Milo-Harris, Bryn Gatland, Kaleb Trask, Fletcher Smith, Anton Lienert-Brown, Rob Thompson, Quinn Tupaea, Bailyn Sullivan, Daniel Rona, Kini Naholo, Sean Wainui, Shaun Stevenson, Solomon Alaimalo, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Damian McKenzie, Josh Moorby

Who knows what is going to happen in the crazy COVID climate, but be sure to keep yourself posted, as I will look to get the Blues one out by Monday! 

If you enjoyed this, feel free to give me a follow on Twitter @Nicholasfriedl3


The title was on the line! While the Hurricanes still needed to pick up max points and along with the Blues, sweat on the result of the second match to go their way to keep the season alive. But first the Hurricanes needed to do their part of the task against the Chiefs to keep themselves in the race. Then the one everything was hanging on, the Crusaders hosting the Highlanders with the title potentially to be decided.


The Chiefs season came to an end tonight on the road in the capital against the Hurricanes, who are looking to keep their extremely slim hopes of a title alive needing the bonus points win. There was a late change for the home side, with Vince Aso replacing Ngani Laumape at inside center.

It only took a couple of minutes to see our first opportunity of points from the tee to the Chiefs. Damien McKenzie having a crack from forty five meters back, but struck the crossbar to let the Hurricanes off early.

It didnt take the Hurricanes long when they did get some ball in hand, finding plenty of advancing space on the edges, Once inside the twenty two, it only took a couple of charges to bash over and it was the impressive Peter Umaga-Jensen who bashed through the one on one tackle to put the first points on the board.

Its a cracking game, full of attacking intent at a very high pace with very few stoppages. Most of the play is under advantage as both sides were spilling the ball pushing the tempo even higher. The Chiefs did jump onto the scoreboard through the boot of McKenzie shortly after the midway point of the half.

Sam Cane took what initially looked like another massive injury after being decked trying to tackle Jordie Barrett after taking down a high ball. Thankfully for Cane, after some time with the medics, was able to walk himself off the field. Another sad end for Sam Canes Super Rugby Aotearoa season.

As soon as the Chiefs got on the board, the Hurricanes snapped back with another try. From the set piece scrum, they launched wide to the left edge. Umaga-Jensen again getting on the outside shoulder of the defence and putting Wes Goosen away down the sidelines. Goosen draws the fullback McKenzie in and offloads right on the edge of the chalk back to Umaga-Jensen who has two in the night already. The ball falls from the tee as Barrett was coming in for the conversion, he snaps a drop kick from the sideline which just slides to the left. He cant do too much wrong….

Kobus van Wyk has a little bit of fun trying to throw Brad Weber as far as he can like some dirty laundry, unfortunately for him, the referee found it illegal and sent him to the bin for ten minutes…..

That was about the last of the fun for the first half, as the two sides head for a breather with the scoreline at 12-3 to the Hurricanes.

With the player advantage, the Chiefs fight back into the game with their first try of the match. Carefully drawing defenders in through the backline to leave that overlap on the outside for Sean Wainui to sneak over in the corner and bring the Chiefs back in the game, just two points behind.

The Hurricanes took over for the next ten minutes, grabbing two quick tries that seemed like it would shut the door on the Chiefs season. Firstly it was Dane Coles who went over in the left corner in typical Coles fashion. Just using his outside runner as a decoy and using his pace to get on the outside and power the carry him over.

It was a flurry of points of McKenzie tried to break the domination of the Hurricanes by putting over a penalty, but it had very little effect.

Then as quickly as they got back to half way, the Hurricanes were back at it again. This time it was a horrid defensive setup by the Chiefs that was read superbly by Jackson Garden-Bachop, who chips the ball across the field to a wide open Korbus Van Wyk who had time to sign some autographs before the defence arrived and still dot down in the corner and push the lead out to 24-13.

A good run of penalties for the Chiefs gets them in another good position to strike. They look to the forwards to drive it from the lineout and after a couple of attempts, manage to smash over through Mitch Karpik, with Brad Slater close behind. It tightens up again, 24-18, Chiefs just six behind.

Its a see-sawing second half in this one, but its the Hurricanes who just keep hitting back in response to every Chiefs attack. Jamie Booth had a massive impact off the bench, adding his usual spark into the backline. He combined with his fellow substitute Billy Proctor to grab what ended up being the final blow to the Chiefs. Booth had made a number of half breaks since coming on the field and added the offload to finish the job for the Canes.

It was a game the Hurricanes lead from start to finish and seemed to have an answer for everything the Chiefs threw at them. They had a real number of standouts in this match but to be fair and just nail down a couple, Peter Umaga-Jensen in the backs again was outstanding and those back three have been superb since Jordie Barretts return. Scott Scrafton has been the sort of players Hurricanes sides have often lacked, he was strong again in the pack along with Du’Plessis Kirifi who just gets better and better.

Well, a winless season for the Chiefs, its difficult to be positive for the team. They don’t back down to throwing it all out there but just lack that ability to find the victory. The biggest problem is the lack of form for the key players like Damien McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown. Samisoni Taukei’aho has been wayward this season but was a solid performer for the Chiefs. Youngsters like Naitoa Ah Kuoi and Ollie Norris look good at this level and give some bright lights for the Chiefs, but all in all, results are the final say and they were far from the side of the Chiefs this season.


This was the game everyone was waiting for this weekend. Was going to depend massively if they Highlanders could turn up to the the party and last the full eighty minutes against the machine that is the Crusaders.

It all started with off with a massive roar for the visitors, blasting over the ball in the ruck for an early turnover. Aaron Smith was always going to be a massive key for the Highlanders and his two touches after the turnover were key. First short side to Josh McKay and then picking a perfect line to find the charging Shannon Frizell to smash over the line with just two minutes on the clock.

It took a bit of time to the Crusaders to get themselves into the game after the early Highlanders domination from the whistle, but they did find their rhythm. Fast recycled ball and numbers on the short side, the Crusaders just need one little spark and they create some of the greatest tries in the competition. Sevu Reece burns down the sideline and with all the support in the world they draw the cover defenders and find the open Richie Mo’unga to score. The Crusaders have woken.

This match was being played at a rocket tempo with the most ridiculous style of play but the Highlanders were here to compete and committed to taking any points on offer as Josh Ioane took the first penalty attempt at goal to nudge the Highlanders in front.

Hold on to your hats folks! This one was hot! Jona Nareki had been caught out defensively a couple of times but this time his turning in worked in their favour. Sam Whitelock’s little tap on pass was intercepted by Nareki who put on the burners and created a footrace with Sevu Reece as the two Fijians went racing to the corner but Nareki had just enough to get it down in the corner and Highlanders cashed in again. Ioane nailed the sideline conversion, tapping the left hand upright on its way past for a 17-7 lead.

The Highlanders forced some respect from the Crusaders, taking shots at the posts from penalties instead of looking for the five and Mo’unga doesn’t miss many, grabbing two late shots at goal to bring the Crusaders within four at the half time break. A cracking forty minutes and surprisingly a Highlanders lead!

Five minutes in to the second half, it looked like the Crusaders were about to score another scorching try from inside their own half but take a look at this highlight if you get the chance. Bryn Hall looked in for all money from about twenty out but do not deny the reactions of Josh McKay who produced the try saver of the decade! Coming from nowhere to tackle Hall from behind and slap the ball out of his grasp for a knock on and a denied try! Unbelievable!

The Highlanders are making a match of this one to the joy of the Hurricanes and the Blues! Playing a determined, stubborn and structure gameplan that’s actually coming off so far. Josh Ioane has been making many little breaks through the Crusaders defence and get the front foot ball for the Highlanders who get just five out from the line. Some quick ball again and Michael Collins crashes through Will Jordan and Sevu Reece to dot down again for the visitors who extend the lead to nine points.

The clock ticked over the hour mark and we all know what that means for the Crusaders, its go time. Within a couple of minutes and some poor Highlanders decision making, the Crusaders had some good attacking ball. Mo’unga swept aside the defence and created a numbers game for the Crusaders who are extremely good at taking advantage of these situations. Through the hands, Jack Goodhue, Will Jordan and for the finish George Bridge.

Its just ridiculous, this Crusaders side. Right off the kickoff, the offload of the decade from Luke Romano to Mo’unga who shows that rapid acceleration and the numbers take their toll again. It’s Will Jordan and George Bridge once more and the combination turns this game on its head. Crusaders now lead by three.

Things go from bad to worse for the Highlanders, as in the buildup to that try, Sio Tomkinson flattened Oli Jager off the ball and was sent to the bin for ten minutes. Bad positioning from Tomkinson and was never in the right place to avoid the hit and the place of the hit made it much much worse.

The Highlanders have matched the level again following the slow down from the Jager injury but with the game winding down into the final few minutes, the final nail was struck. A number of penalties inside the Highlanders half has the Crusaders right on attack. Of course with the yellow card man still missing in midfield, the Crusaders strike right in that spot. Braydon Ennor finding all the space to mark his return with what will turn out to be the match winner.

The Highlanders toil at the Crusaders for the last few minutes but cannot find their way back into the game and the professional Crusaders just do whats required to get the job done and crown themselves Super Rugby Aotearoa champions with a week still to play. The dream of the season decider at Eden Park, just wasn’t to be….

Both sides had a stack of players who performed fantastically! I’ll keep it short and sweet for this or I will name the whole teams! For the Crusaders Richie Mounga was an absolute standout again! Hes had a spectacular season and has become a real leader of how this team operates. Codie Taylor was near unstoppable at times as well. He carried well and picked his offloading decision very well.

Its a similar story for the Highlanders, Josh Ioane had a fantastic game for the Highlanders. Really is stepping up with his creation and running game and works well with Mitch Hunt. If anything, the Highlanders decision making at times let them down, poor exits with little chips and those risky 50/50 plays that often dont pay off when you play a side like the Crusaders. In the pack, in this game and the whole season, its hard to go past Ash Dixon. A real leader in all areas on this team and considering how little the Highlanders used the maul, he will still the most prominent forward in the pack. Shannon Frizell was also a standout, this has been his best season for years.

Great game all around, a real spectacle to watch.

Previews and reviews are right here Behind The Posts for each and every round of Super Rugby Aotearoa! Rugby is back! Let me know your thoughts on the action this weekend in the comments and Thanks for stopping by Behind The Posts. If you would like to have your say here, get in touch on the contact page today!

SUPER RUGBY AU – Round Six Review

Super Rugby AU is firmly into the second half of the season and the return fixtures are always an interesting highlight. This round saw the once undefeated Brumbies put to the sword by the Rebels in the first shock of the weekend. The upsets weren’t done there however, the wobbly Waratahs were firm favourites to get hammered by the Reds and that couldn’t be further from what happened. What a crazy weekend of Super Rugby AU. Lets catch up with how the action went down…..


The weather conditions were less than ideal for the opening match of the weekend. Consistent rain throughout the game made handling a problem for both sides and made the kicking game a far more tactical option as the ball was skidding across the pack.

The way the sides played you would almost think it was a dry weather game and it was expansive play towards the right edge that picked up the first try. Reece Hodge taking advantage of some poor defending out wide by the Brumbies, who weren’t trusting their inside defender, and left a stack of space out wide.

Remember its wet…. The Brumbies were having a good period of attack in the Rebels half until they tried a little grubber kick which was blocked by Campbell Magnay and chased back the other way by Marika Koroibete who showed his tremendous acceleration and speed to toe the ball ahead a couple more times before winning the diving tussle a couple meters short of the line and popping it up to a charging Brad Wilkin to crash over. Completely against the run of play, that was a big blow by the Rebels.

The Brumbies battled back into the game and little surprise it was mainly through the lineout maul and penalties. But it wasn’t the usual suspects that delivered the points. Joe Powell snatching the ball out of the grasp of Folau Faingaa at the back of the maul to scuttle around the short side to finally put the Brumbies on the board.

The rest of the half was all Rebels and huge concern for the Brumbies. Matt To’omua rubbed salt into the wound with a little grubber of his own the Reece Hodge raced through, splashing through the puddles to beat the defender to the ball.

To’omua wasn’t having the greatest night off the tee with a couple of conversion missed already, but a nice handy penalty got him another three to his name.

With the half wearing to a close it was long periods of control by the Rebels. Their pack getting the better of the exchanges and the Brumbies decision making was appalling.

After pounding away at the Brumbies defence for what seemed like forever, the Rebels finally broke through again, Jordan Uelese planting it down from close range to give the Rebels a tidy twenty point lead.

It got worse for the Brumbies as the Rebels instantly got back on the attack with seconds to play. The defence this time held out enough but they lost Tom Cusack to a yellow card and were lucky to hold out to the half time break without conceding again! Off to half time we go, scoreline reading 27-7 in favour of the Rebels. Surprising half!

The Brumbies survive the early period after the break while being a man down without conceding any more points and even looked decent enough at getting into attacking areas themselves.

Back to fifteen a side, the Rebels get themselves even further in front via the boot of Matt To’omua once more, to extend that lead to twenty three points.

The majority of the second half is the Rebels focusing on defending that strong lead they had built up while throwing to the Brumbies and saying, bring it back and we will keep you out. They did that extremely well.

The Brumbies did finally battle over in the last couple of minutes, Will Miller crashes over after a number of penalties and quick taps taken from the Brumbies.

Could easy sum this game up in a few lines, Matt To’omua at twelve, he guided his Rebels around brilliantly, kicked well, and the Rebels ultimately played the better wet weather rugby. The question mark of Andrew Deegan at ten was well rewarded with his good territory kicking.

I’m struggling to find any real positives for the Brumbies on this game. The backs could not catch kicks, the forwards could not hit the ball up. The kicking was aimless, their gameplan was clueless. The worst Brumbies match in quite some time. Full time 30-7 to the Rebels.


Its the old rivalry of New South Wales vs Queensland to wrap up the sixth round of Super Rugby AU. The Waratahs just back from the bye and looking to get their season back on track.

They started the better of the two sides too, finding a lot of space out on the left side with James Ramm and the Waratahs cashed in with three early points off the tee.

The Reds went quickly on attack but their lineout is getting smashed by the Waratahs and the Reds are just not winning any of their own ball off their throw. That causes all sorts of issues for the Reds and the Waratahs have possession and possession against the throw. The left edge proved profitable again as Ramm slips through the defence and some superb offloading welcomes Jake Gordon back with the opening try of the game.

Before that opening try, it was about the final attacking chance for the Reds in the first half. The Waratahs took over and it makes you wonder what happened during their bye week, or perhaps what happened to the Reds over the last week….

The Waratahs went on a FIVE try rampage in the first half, three of which came from scrum half Jake Gordon. The lineout was a continued area of problems as Gordon’s second try came from Reds lineout, the first was more exposure down that left wing where Ramm was running without problem.

It was down the left again the Jack Dempsey found half a hole and an offload to Jack Maddocks extended the lead even more. Gordon added his third soon after and then it was Alex Newsome who went flying, quite literally, in the right corner when some ball finally went out to the his side of the field.

It defied belief to look at the half time scoreline, 38-0 the Waratahs thrashing the Reds at half time, five tries and nothing thrown back at them.

The second half was, as you would expect, a lot more tame. The Waratahs happy with their first half work and set about defending it with territorial rugby.

They still couldn’t help scoring tries and hooker Tom Horton got a rare one for the forwards who hardly had a chance to lay the ground attack close to the line. They cash in on the chance and extend that lead even more, out to 45-0, yes, forty five to NIL! Its explainable.

The Reds do fight back into the game, getting their opening points of the game a few minutes later thanks to a lucky bounce from a James O’Connor cross field kick, off the head of Jack Maddocks and bouncing fortuitously into the hands of Jack Hardy to finally put the Reds on the board.

The rest of the game was a Waratahs side happy to camp down and run down the clock against a Reds team throwing every desperate play they could at them. Their set piece was shot, their hands were just as bad and nothing went right for them at all. It was not a night for the Reds at all and continues on the Australian sides complete inconsistency.

With time well up the Reds finally managed to do four things they failed to do all night long. Firstly, the won a penalty and found touch with a good kick. Secondly, won a lineout… yeah that was a big deal. Thirdly, Tate McDermott made a rare half break off the bench and then finally the last piece of the puzzle, managed to put an offload to hands that actually caught the ball and just like that, like magic, James O’Connor scored the try.

The Reds may take a little heart at winning the second half, but when your down by 45 points, there is near nothing you can take as a positive. May as well cover the away side first because there was very little you could say they did well. The standouts, if you want to stretch, James O’Connor looked OK in a dreadful side, but overall, no one can hold their head up high. I don’t even recall hearing or seeing Jordan Petaia on the ball and his left edge got smashed early on.

The Waratahs on the other hand, have plenty to take from that game. James Ramm was devastating early on and set the tone for the game. Jakes Gordon of course cant miss out on a hattrick mention and often for the Waratahs, if Michael Hooper has a good game, so do the Waratahs, that was the case again in this one. Hopefully, the Waratahs can back that up next week…..

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FIRST FIVE KEY FOR THE CANES- A Potential 2021 Hurricanes Squad

With the Mitre 10 Cup start and the end of Super Rugby Aotearoa fast approaching, I thought it would be good to have a look into just what each franchise needs. This is the third part of a five-part series, today looking at the Hurricanes.


The Hurricanes are the other New Zealand side without a coach confirmed for the 2021 season, but with the uncertainty of COVID, but more importantly a pretty good showing on the field, Jason Holland will surely be offered the job after a reasonably good audition. Onto the squad, The Canes have signed up youngsters Xavier Numia and Tevita Mafileo, which means that Fraser Armstrong and Pouri Rakete-Stones are going for one spot. At 28, Armstrong has some much-needed experience, and as the starting prop, you would imagine he will be the one retained for the 2021 season. Coles, Aumua and Riccitelli are all signed up, while tightheads Alex Fidow and Tyrel Lomax will be there for the long term. Big Ben May will surely move on, meaning a new tighthead will be required. Workhorse, James Blackwell will be joined by Scott Scrafton, Liam Mitchell and Kane Le’aupepe, while Isaia Walker-Leawere has yet to sign a deal. With question marks of age and ability for the latter three, Walker-Leawere surely will earn another deal. 2022, will surely be the year to target one of the Crusader’s locks. The Hurricanes loose forwards are set for a refresh, with Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Du’Plessis Kirifi and Devan Flanders being the only ones signed. Gareth Evans and Vaea Fifita, are seemingly off, which will leave some big homes. Murphy Taramai will also do well to get a renewal. Into the backs, where halfbacks TJ Perenara, Jamie Booth and Jonathan Taumateine are all signed up, confirming they will be strong there again. The men from the capital failed to replace Beauden Barrett this season, which will see one of if not both Jackson Garden-Bachop (Who I have touted for the Crusaders) and Fletcher Smith. James Marshall is not signed up and he will also likely depart. One of those three will surely stay, along with Simon Hickey. The Hurricanes have a complete five-prong midfield contingent secured for next season, with Ngani Laumape, Vince Ason, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Billy Procter and Danny Toala all locked in for next season and beyond. Finally, in the outside backs, Jordie Barrett has just been confirmed for 2021, while Chase Tiatia and Wes Goosen are staying in the capital. Kobus Van Wyk and Ben Lam are going, or in the case of Lam gone, leaving just Jonah Lowe and Salesi Rayasi. With the uncertainty of the Olympics, Rayasi would be silly not to commit to the 15 man game, while the Canes would likely face little competition for the signature of Jonah Lowe.


With this all in mind, The Hurricanes will be looking for a tighthead prop, three loose forwards, up to two first-fives and a winger. 


Starting at tighthead, the Hurricanes won’t have a great deal of worry with this one. With Lomax aged 24 and Fidow 22, the Hurricanes will likely target someone with a good older head. Ben May could well be welcomed back, but at 37 it is surely time for him to move on. The Canes could look to a guy coming out the Mitre 10 Cup, but I am going to bring to the table a current and a former Highlanders and Counties Manukau prop. The first option is 24-year-old Irish born Conan O’Donnell. Similar to Crusader Oli Jager, O’Donnell shifted to New Zealand for the sole purpose of playing rugby. After a solid Mitre 10 Cup, O’Donnell spent pre-season with the Crusaders, before debuting for the Highlanders. He is not huge in size, but he makes that up in other ways. Option two is Kalolo Tuiloma. The 30-year-old was playing in Major League Rugby, but I can only assume has returned to New Zealand due to COVID. The Wellington born Tuiloma is massive in size, in all ways and would be a good third choice.

Option: Kalolo Tuiloma

Moving into the loose, and I am going to bring forward three options, although there is one other guy who may well head to the Hurricanes. Tom Florence is that one, but as I have already touted him to go to the Highlanders, (He has been with them as an injury replacement this season) I won’t be delving further into him. The first option is Ajay Lafaele-Mua. Lafaele-Mua appears to be yet another bright talent, at number eight. With great raw skills and a big frame, there is certainly a lot to work with for the Hurricanes coaching staff. Being from the Bay, there is every chance he may well be snapped up by the Chiefs. Next, we have current Crusader Ethan Roots. Roots has seen next to no game time in Christchurch and appears off-contract. Similar to Lafaele-Mua, he comes with bucket loads of potential, and he would be a very shrewd pickup. Finally, is Mitch Jacobson. Jacobson, it a strong tackler and good on defence, so he could compliment the ball-playing of Kirifi and Savea quite well. Jacobson has however struggled to make an impact at this level, and may well fancy a shift offshore. Option: Ethan Roots and 2x Mitre 10 Cup Standout

Next is the big one for the Hurricanes- first five. Simon Hickey is locked in for next year, but he shapes as more of a backup. Having touted Jackson Garden-Bachop for a move to the Crusaders, it leaves the Canes in need of two first fives. Fletcher Smith is yet to be offered a new deal, and he has struggled to make an impact in the capital. I would expect him to move on. The final current Hurricane is James Marshall. At 31, he feels older than he really is and he may well get a one year deal. Can the Hurricanes do better? I have settled on one option for definite, who is likely to be joined by someone from the Mitre 10 Cup. That option is Brett Cameron. Whilst there are several other off- first fives, including Bryn Gatland and Harry Plummer, Brett Cameron is their man. Cameron is originally from the Hurricanes region and clearly has the ability. The 23-year-old made a very much premature All Blacks debut, but more than anything that signals just how much potential the coaches think he has. He has struggled for game time and confidence at the Crusaders, but if the Hurricanes pick him and back him, he could well be a long term option. Joining Cameron will be another first five. This is very much a fluid option. Whether it be a Dan Hollinshead or a Baden Kerr, the situation is fluid. It could end up being someone who shoots through at the Mitre 10 level and takes their chance, but ultimately most of the sides seemingly have a ten set in stone. 

Option: Brett Cameron and Dan Hollinshead

Finally, in the outsides, the Hurricanes will be on the search for a winger. With Wes Goosen likely taking one wing, it would leave the inexperience of Jonah Lowe and Salesi Rayasi to battle it out on the other wing. The Canes will be looking for one if not two wingers. There are a few guys who they could look at, but I am going to pinpoint two. The first of those is Tima Fainga’anuku. Fainga’anuku has been with the Highlanders this season but has struggled for game time after a couple of average games to start the season. A big, strong and powerful ball runner, Fainga’anuku may be looking to completely relocate, as he may well struggle for game time in Tasman this year. He could well be the perfect compliment to Wes Goosen. Similarly to other positions, if this was to fail, then an off-contract Crusader like Leicester Fainga’anuku could be an option the year after. The other option is Caleb Makene. Makene has been around a few years now, and after shifting back to Hawkes Bay, a big Mitre 10 Cup could propel him into the Super Rugby picture. Makene, may well be another average player, and the Hurricanes might want something more. I think the Hurricanes would also be well advised to carry a youngster, a twentyish-year-old, to simply get him up to speed.

Option: Tima Fainga’anuku 


The Hurricanes have not been miles off the pace this season, and with a few additions, they will be right in it. Upfront, the changes won’t be too noticeable. Pouri Rakete-Stones and Ben May will depart, while the big Kalolo Tuiloma might be a decent backup. In the loose Ethan Roots will go a long way towards replacing the powerful Vaea Fifita, while the Gareth Evans sized hole will be left for someone from the Mitre 10 Cup. Assuming all three current number tens depart, current Crusader Brett Cameron and Dan Hollinshead could join the already signed Simon Hickey. Finally, on the wing, Tima Fainga’anuku will go a long way towards replacing the impressive duo of Ben Lam and Kobus Van Wyk. Despite the return of Salesi Rayasi, I would not be surprised if the Canes also carry a young winger, to get him up to speed for the future.

2021 SQUAD

Fraser Armstrong, Xavier Numia, Tevita Mafileo, Dane Coles, Asafo Aumua, Ricky Riccitelli, Tyrel Lomax, Alex Fidow, Kalolo Tuiloma, James Blackwell, Kane Le’aupepe, Liam Mitchell, Scott Scrafton, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Reed Prinsep, Devan Flanders, Ethan RootsM10 Cup StandoutM10 Cup Standout, Ardie Savea, Du’Plessis Kirifi, TJ Perenara, Jamie Booth, Jonathon Taumateine, Simon Hickey, Brett CameronDan Hollinshead, Ngani Laumape, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Vince Aso, Danny Toala, Billy Procter, Salesi Rayasi, Wes Goosen, Jonah Lowe, Tima Fainga’anuku, Jordie Barrett, Chase Tiatia.

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