Another weekend has passed us by with two more matches of Super Rugby Aotearoa, but the results were far from as we expected with some serious fight from the teams on the road. The Highlanders shocked the big city boys with a strong second half display to nearly topple the Blues. Then in the pouring rain in Christchurch, two sides tried playing sunny rugby and ended up grounding out a low scorer for the hardy faithful fans. Check out the preview here and see how close my predictions were.


Time to crack out the old rugby cliche for this one! Game of two halves! The first forty minutes were dominated by the Blues who took hold of this match much how it was expected by media in the build up. The weather didn’t turn out to be as bad as expected pre-game and although it had been wet all day, the rain stayed away for the most of the fixture but still proved greasy underfoot, in control of the ball and cause plenty of issues for both sides. The Highlanders struggled early as the Blues kicking game was on point and the influence of the likes of Daniel Carter is clear to see. Caleb Clarke was unplayable for the first half despite the conditions scoring one try and creating another in a menacing forty minute display. Sadly for him and the rest of his Blues backline buddies, they went massively missing in the second half. The pack battle was an almighty clash as the Highlanders matched the Blues as expected and were very competitive at the set piece, Josh Dickson was very strong in the lineout. It was a first real chance for Scott Gregory to stamp his mark on Super Rugby but had a match he will want to forget as his errors played a bit part in most of the Blues points. The lead for the hosts was 12 at half time, 22-10.

The second half was a complete change of action. The Blues lacked possession and the Highlanders backs starting to come to life. We started to see the standouts come to light. Aaron Smiths impact started to take toll as his ability to command the best between forwards and backs directed his team forward. Smith is taking more responsibility in the team and getting involved in the messy stuff of the game. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u continues his spectacular form for the Highlanders as his blockbusting runs set the Blues going backwards. The Highlanders went close early in the second half which sent Reiko Ioane to the bin for ten and the match swung even further! Mitch Hunt kicked off the period with a cutting run for the first try of the half and Shannon Frizell had his best match in a Highlanders jumper for some time. His try sent the Highlanders in the lead for the first time in the match. The Blues battled back hard to snatch the lead back with 20 minutes to play. The final stanza of the match was some of the most absorbing rugby of the competition so far. The Highlanders dominated, taking drop goal attempts, penalties to the corners and driving mauls close to the line. It was some brutal and tenacious Blues defence that somehow held the Highlanders out to the final whistle. A cracking match over the eighty that had plenty of twists and turns but the Blues held tough at the end to win it by three.


The Chiefs were dealt and early blow as they had to make a late change on the wing with Solomon Alaimalo missing out on the game and Etene Nanai-Seturo taking his spot. While the rain stayed mostly away on Saturday, Sunday wasn’t so lucky. Messy rain make conditions very difficult for any kind of exciting rugby but the teams still tried to play that style for the hardy Crusaders fans. It hardly went to plan however, both sides struggled to make anything expansive stick. There was plenty of turnovers, errors and mistakes all over the place. Aaron Cruden was impactful for the Chiefs but often forced his hand too much with half breaks. Damien McKenzie was wasteful with the plenty of ball he revived, often running sideways, away from support and put his side under quite a bit of pressure. McKenzie need to keep away from the first receiver channels and time his game more around the power runners the Chiefs have in their midfield and feed off those runners instead of being the solo runner trying to find space himself. The Crusaders adapted to the conditions better as the match drew on and Richie Mo’unga was controlling the game with his well placed kicking game. Cullen Grace is an spectacular talent and I have been keeping a close eye on his performances as a young and inexperienced back row with Billy Harmon. His work around the field in outstanding, defence, work rate, cleaning out and enforcing on the breakdown was a standout.

The Crusaders led the match 10-3 at half time thanks to one single moment of brilliance by Sevu Reece and the electric pace of Will Jordan. When it seemed nothing was on, a high kick was completely misread by McKenzie who got no where near it. A great chase was led by Reece who climbed high, drew the cover defence and set away his rapid fullback. The Chiefs defensive structure was all at sea with no cover back for McKenzie who, once was beaten, had no chance of stopping the attack. The second try for the Crusaders came by the way of the same players. This time it was the Chiefs who were asleep, arguing with the ref over previous phases, while the Crusaders and Reece took a quick lineout to a racing Will Jordan who went in for his second and at the point, led the game 18-3 with just twenty minutes to play. On the topic of Jordan, what a talent he is looking like so far this year. His security on the high balls hit his way was fantastic and secured any contestable kicks from the Chiefs. The visitors staged a late comeback to get within a converted try of the lead and it was all a bit against the run of the game. Hard toil in the poor conditions and even the backs getting involved, to the extent that the try was scored why winger Sean Wainui crashing over at close range. As close as they got, the Crusaders are far too professional to let them get any closer. The defence tightened up and the intensity stepped up another level and the Chiefs slowly were shut out of the game yet again. No further points were added but the Crusaders just know how to finish, controlling to ending to the 18-13 full-time scoreline.

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 AOTEAROA – Round Three Preview

With all sides now all in action playing at least one game, we have slightly better view of how Super Rugby Aotearoa is panning out. You can catch up on how Round Two went in my review here. This weekend the Blues will host the Highlanders and the Crusaders will be at home the first time this season against the Chiefs. That means the Hurricanes will sit round three out.


Round Three opens up with with the hot running Blues back at home again, undefeated from their first two matches against the Hurricanes and Chiefs. The Highlanders, on the other hand, sat out round two after last ditched drop goal single point victory in the opening match of Super Rugby Aotearoa. Both sides at this stage seem to be settled going into this weekend. Aside from the continued absence of Josh Ioane, the Highlanders have been extremely quiet this week in the build up so far, still basking in the glory of their round one victory. Its going to be another step up if they want to match the Blues.

If we have learnt anything so far this season, its that the lineout and penalties are once again going to be key. I feel although the Highlanders were impressive against the Chiefs in round one, they are going to be part of that group with the Chiefs and Hurricanes competing for those third to fifth places already. The Highlanders are going to find it tough going against the form of Patrick Tuipulotu and whatever back row combination the Blues decide to go with this week. You can bet Hoskins Sotutu will again suit up in one of those three spots and I cant wait to see him clash with Marino Mikaele-Tu’u. I see the Blues as solid favourites for this clash and those back five places of the pack are going to be the decisive positions. If the Highlanders want to target an area, put the pressure on the fly half channel. Otere Black has been at the peeks of his power so far in Super Rugby Aotearoa but he could well be the first domino to fall in the Blues kingdom. Crash that link in the Blues armour and focus on yet again defence. The Highlanders need to be rapid to the breakdowns to not only not concede penalties, but protect the ball for quick releases which means more pressure on Aaron Smith. Who with speedy ball and his quick thinking and express passing plays, could dictate the match. OK so being realistic, the Blues are big favourites for me, despite how much I’d love to see the Highlanders get one for the South.

RESULT – Blues by 8

CRUSADERS vs CHIEFS – Orangetheory Stadium

How impressive were the Crusaders in their first match?! They have lost simply none of their attacking intent and ability over the downtime without Super Rugby. But, they suffered pretty hard to the hand of penalties and the strict offside line. The Hurricanes thrived off the for the most of their round two clash and can not afford to let others sides get that kind of leg up over the fixture. Scott Barrett was missing from the Crusaders opening game with hope he would return soon, but has since been ruled out of those whole season this week after the injury was worse than first thought. They did miss his leadership in the second row, even with Sam Whitelock back. If the Crusaders can clean up those penalties and offside lines, they are going to be incredibly hard to stop with that fantastic attacking ability.

You have to feel sorry for the Chiefs, they have been filling up the Hamilton medical wards more and more each week with injury after injury and this week is no different. Two new additions to the wards include Luke Jacobson and Tupou Va’ai, with the latter only a small injury, it hammers the already smashed second row. Maybe a Chiefs start for Adam Thompson at lock? Desperate times indeed if that is the case. Sadly for Jacobson, it seems much worse. But there is good news for the Chiefs, All Black captain Sam Cane looks finally fit to return and to possibly join him in the second row could be Mitch Karpik, who may well be quite nicely suited to the new way the game is ruled. For such a vital area the Chiefs need to be getting more from that loose forward trio. What will be a concern is the leadership from ten and getting more out of Anton Lienert-Brown in midfield. Again though we will be talking about their line out more than anything again this week. If they cant keep hold of their own ball in the set piece against the deadly Crusaders, it may well be a long night for the visiting side.

RESULT – Crusaders by 11

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!


With the completion of round two in Super Rugby Aotearoa, all five sides have finally taken the field and boy, did the Crusaders kick start their seasons start against the Hurricanes with a splash or what?! The Blues continued to rumble on and impress rugby fans in New Zealand against the Chiefs, with their second win in as many weeks. The Highlanders sat the weekend out with a lot to take in from the weekends action. Continue reading “SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA – Round Two Review”


After a phenomenal opening round of Super Rugby Aotearoa last weekend, its a joy to once again be looking forward to another two matches for Round Two. The action gets underway on Saturday night at FMG Stadium Waikato, where the Chiefs will host opening round victors the Blues. In the Sunday afternoon fixture, the Hurricanes have their opening match at Sky Stadium against the Crusaders, who will finally get their campaign underway. The Highlanders will sit out this weekend on the bye. Continue reading “SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA – Round Two Preview”


Its been a fantastic opening weekend of Super Rugby Aotearoa with two outstanding matches of rugby in front of two fantastically loud crowds! The Highlanders stunned the world by picking up all the firsts, including the single point win against the Chiefs. Then the Blues followed up the home team double, putting on a second half clinic against the Hurricanes. Continue reading “SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA – Round One Review”


Its been three long long, oh so long, months since we have had any rugby on the park, but now finally New Zealand’s Super Rugby sides return with, believe it or not, crowds allowed to return to stadiums. Its live! With fans! Its rugby, celebrate! Continue reading “IT’S BACK – SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA!”