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.
BRUMBIES 38 vs 11 WARATAHS
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.
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