Super Rugby 2015 Round 2 Review

A return to normality after the opening weekend of upsets. Here is my review of round 2 of the Super Rugby.

How did the predictions go?

First here is a link to my predictions.

5 out of 7, a great improvement on last week! I picked one of the upsets but not the other so an OK week.

Chiefs 19 v 17 Brumbies

This was a closely run battle through out the game. The game kicked off with frenetic stuff, an early exchange of penalties leaving Brumbies with a 3-6 lead. Chiefs handling clicked and they scored the first try of the game which Cruden converted. Brumbies struck straight back scoring a try form a maul but missing the conversion hold the narrowest lead 10-11. That was all within the first quarter of the game and it couldn’t keep that up. A Chiefs penalty was the only score for the rest of the half.

Brumbies owned the third quarter scoring two penalties to none to take a 4 point lead. Unfortunately for the Australians the Chiefs owned the last 20 minutes and two penalties sealed a narrow win.

Key Stat: Kick at goal success Chiefs 100.0% Brumbies 67.0%

I wanted to say average meters carried with Chiefs 5.3 meters v Brumbies 2.9 but the penalty count of Chiefs 14 v Brumbies 7 undid a lot of that hard work. In the end that misses penalty and conversion for Brumbies lost them the game. There was talk of kicking for territory and not goal also but if the ones they had taken weren’t missed they would have won.

Rebels 28 v 38 Waratahs

The Waratahs needed a win to get their season going and they did strike first with a penalty. Rebels though struck back with an early converted try to take the lead. That’s how it stayed until the defending champions had a good ten minutes scoring a converted try and two penalties. The Rebels did manage to get themselves back into it with a converted try on half time to trail by just 2.

The second half was a ding-dong battle with Waratahs scoring the first try only for Rebels to score one to pull them back into it. Then it happened all over again as Waratahs scored a try but this time they lost a man to the bin. Rebels profited by scoring a converted try and to even up the score with just over ten minutes to go. Then the Waratahs had another scoring spree to rack up ten points in the last 8 minutes to seal the win.

Key Stat: Clean breaks Rebels 7 Waratahs 14

The Waratahs were better with ball in hand and Rebels were only able to stay with them due to physicality and opportunistic tries.

Bulls 13 v 17 Hurricanes

Hurricanes took advantage of Bulls early in discipline to kick over two penalties. Bulls came back through Pollard who scored a converted try and penalty in 3 minutes to take the lead. Hurricanes narrowed that to one point with the final kick of the half. Excahnged penalties early in the second half led the game evenly poised. Eventually a Savea try 14 minutes from time sealed it.

There has been a lot talk about the quality of the Hurricanes back line but it needs the front 8 to provide the platform and that’s what happened in this game.

Key Stat: Penalties conceded (Freekicks) Bulls 12 (1) Hurricanes 7 (1)

Bulls indiscipline, especially in their own half, is what lost this one. Sometimes it’s not easy when the opposition is camped in your half like the Hurricanes were at times. But a exit strategy has to be found. Barrett nearly let the Bulls off by missing a conversation and two penalties, but this time he was luck to be given enough shots at goal to keep the Hurricanes in it.

A couple of interesting stats, that’s the first time since 2006 that the Hurricanes have won back to back games in South Africa. Also it’s the first time since 2008 that the Bulls have lost back to back home games.

Highlanders 20 v 26 Crusaders

Crusaders got the first points on the board with a penalty but a patient Highlanders replied with a converted try on 19 minutes. After that though the Crusaders upped the pressure and controlled the rest of the half getting two converted tries and a penalty to lead 7-20 at halftime. Crusaders got the first score of the second half as well with another penalty but substitutions meant they lost their cohesion. The Highlanders worked their way back with a try and a conversion to get within 7 points. That’s as good as it got though as the sides traded a penalty each in the closing stages.

Key Stat: Territory (1H/2H) Highlanders 39% (27%/58%) Crusaders 61% (73%/42%)

Crusaders took full advantage of their dominance in the first half and even with replaced players had enough to hold out. The Highlanders just got too far behind and couldn’t get bacon level terms.

Reds 18 v 6 Force

With the awful weather we weren’t sure this game was going to take place. It did go a head in the end but the home side lost James O’Connor due to a late fitness test before the game had even started. The Reds took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter as they punished Force’s indiscipline. But the Force worked their way back into the game with two penalties of their own. One of the few moments of quality led to the Reds first try and a 5 point lead going into the break.

The second half really was poor with the Reds happy to kick for territory, one of their few forays into Force territory did lead to the only try of the half. After one too many scrum penalties the Reds got a penalty try that was enough to win the game.

Key Stat: Scrums on own feed Reds 10 won, 0 lost (100.0%) Force 6 won, 2 lost (75.0%)

The Reds forwards stepped up in heavy conditions to win this one, not only did they win every scrum but also every lineout along with stealing 6 of the Force’s. With a 1 in 3 chance of winning opposition lineouts it allowed them to kick the leather off the ball all game long.

Stormers 27 v 16 Blues

The Blues were actually 3-6 up after 7 minutes but that’s as good as it got. The Stormers had already scored their first try to take the lead when Triggs effectively threw the game away. The Blues lock got red carded for throwing a punch on 24 minutes. It took Stormers a little while but a converted try and another penalty meant they had a comfortable 18-6 lead at half time.

An early penalty stretched Stormers lead before the Blues staged something of a comeback. Ten points in eight minutes got them back with a score with half an hour to go. But Stormers quickly scored another penalty to make it a two score gap before adding another late on.

Key Stat: Penalties conceded (Freekicks) Stormers 7 (2) Blues 17 (1)

Blues discipline not only lost them a player but also handed over territory to the Stormers. If the Stormers hadn’t turned over the ball 18 times and not missed 3 kicks at goal they would have won by a lot more.

Sharks 29 v 12 Lions

Lions did take an early 3 point lead but never really looked like winning the game. The Sharks had two tries and 15 points by the half hour mark. Lions did get another penalty before the break but went in 15-6 down. The Lions started the second half quickly as well with two penalties to get within 3. But again the Sharks just upped their game and pulled away with the forwards doing the damage to add two more tries and seal the TBP.

Key Stat: Kicks from hand Sharks 34 Lions 30

This was a display of kicking with neither side wanting to play with the ball unless they were already in the “right” part of the pitch already.

Final Note

Something I found interesting, all the Australian teams have won one and lost one so far.

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