Super 15 starts superbly
WOW! What an exciting start to the Super 15 competition. The first three rounds have been filled with high-paced running rugby with lots of tries.
However there has been no shortage of big hits and great forward play showing that rugby is still a game for all shapes and sizes.
A classic example was the way pint size halfback Jimmy Cowan charged straight into monster Springbok lock Victor Matfield and brought him crashing to the ground.
My beloved Chiefs have had a slow start but gained their first competition points with a convincing 38-10 four-try bonus point win over the newest franchise Melbourne Rebels.
They have proved a much stronger opponent than their critics would expect having toppled the Brumbies and narrowly losing to the Sharks.
Injury problems for the Chiefs are limited to their inspirational captain Mils Muliaina who has chipped bones in his vertebrae that will keep him out for four to six weeks.
However they have a more than capable replacement in the form of pocket rocket Tim NanaiWilliams.
The return of Richard Kahui will add stability and punch to the midfield backs. This should provide the potent outside combinations more space and opportunity to work their magic.
Watching the Crusaders playing in Nelson it was great to see a packed stadium with a sea of red and black supporters all cheering and waving flags.
Their team delivered with that 52-10 drubbing over the Brumbies.
I hope the Cantabrians maintain their enthusiastic attitude, despite the major concerns at home.
The Crusaders gave a complete team effort with all players, one to 22, contributing.
Outstanding was Robbie Fruean who set up his outsides well, made line breaks by bouncing through tackles and the opposition defence were powerless to stop him.
If you try to go high he bumps you off, and if you try to go low he tramples over you, in Lomu-esque style.
Andy Ellis passed very well and Daniel Carter true to form had the Midas touch, controlling the game with perfection as we’ve come to expect. His goal kicking was deadly accurate, landing eight from eight.
Youngsters Israel Dagg and Sean Maitland both crossed the whitewash, the latter bagging four tries.
Now to the other code and the National Rugby League.
The Warriors’ season opener against Parramatta Eels was a tightly contested game between two physical forward packs and some hard running backs on both sides.
There seemed to be more emphasis on defence and a high penalty count prevented the freeflowing game we expected.
The Warriors had a full strength squad going into the game with a very settled look to the team.
Seasoned campaigners Lance Hohaia, Manu Vatuvai, Michael Luck and Captain Simon Mannering are the nucleus with strong support from young guns such as Joel Moon and Glen Fisiahi.
Unfortunately the players did not execute the game-plan well, with too many handling errors, which affected continuity and gifted possession back to the Eels.
It came as no surprise that the Eels were first to score through their halfback, then ten minutes later Jared Hayne benefited from a spilled bomb in the Warriors own in-goal area. After only 30 minutes the Warriors had made a staggering 188 tackles. Perhaps this extreme effort contributed to their tiredness near the end of the game. Fortunately the Warriors did regroup and Jerome Ropati scored wide out to give them some hope. In the end though, they contributed to their own demise. Having to make 300 tackles in a game suggests far too high a turnover rate.
They must reduce the errors. I have every faith that coach Ivan Cleary will pinpoint these areas of concern, and work on them.
The Warriors will bounce back from this early set-back.
PS: A little message for the Hinuera players and those involved with their club, after a great pre-season warm-up in the Gold Coast my good sources tell me they are ready to kick-start the season.
See you in a couple of weeks.