Aussies not so Super
ANOTHER long-term back row injury compounded the Brumbies’ crushing defeat to leave them reeling after another fruitless week for Australia’s Super Rugby teams.
For a second straight round, no Aussie was able to beat an overseas team.
The Brumbies ( seven points) crashed 52-10 to the Crusaders ( 12) in Nelson and the Melbourne Rebels ( six) fell 34-32 to the Sharks ( 18) at home after leading the tabletoppers 25-13 early in the second half.
The winless Western Force ( seven) had the chance to end the barren run, but were forced to settle for a 22-22 home draw with the Blues ( 11) after surrendering a 10-point lead with three minutes to go.
But the underachieving Brumbies were the major concern from a round in which NSW ( 14) and Queensland ( 12) remained atop the Australian conference after each had a bye. The Brumbies have suffered three straight losses, the last two under new coach Tony Rea, and continue to struggle after sacking Andy Friend following round two.
Skipper Matt Giteau described their performance against the potent Crusaders as lazy and said they needed to show more character. With Test back-rowers Rocky Elsom and Stephen Hoiles already sidelined, the Brumbies suffered another blow with flanker Mitchell Chapman fracturing a cheekbone.
Brumbies team doctor Angus Bathgate expected Chapman to face between six to 10 weeks on the sidelines.
‘‘ We’ll know more after he’s had surgery tomorrow,’’ Bathgate said.
Wallabies skipper Elsom and Hoiles were both still considered 5-6 weeks from resuming from their hamstring and achilles injuries respectively.
Fortunately for the Brumbies, rookie back-rowers Colby Faingaa and Ita Vaea have been among their best since being thrown into action.
Bathgate was awaiting news from winger Henry Speight ( suspected fractured jaw) who stayed on in New Zealand, while Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore suffered a low-grade ankle sprain he didn’t think would be a major issue.
Force coach Richard Graham remained upbeat about his team’s prospects even though they have yet to register a win this season as they fly out for their South African leg.
Five-eighth Willie Ripia will train today to determine whether a foot problem will allow him to make the trip, but James O’Connor again made a good fist of the pivot position. While some of Australia’s other goalkickers have struggled at the start of the season, O’Connor landed six of his seven shots against the Sharks.
Melbourne, who picked up two bonus points, have lost in-form veteran fullback Mark Gerrard for four weeks with a shoulder injury. English five-eighth Danny Cipriani scored a brilliant solo try, but also gave one back when he kept a ball in play which was pounced on by Myer Bosman.