Former ’Canes spice up Su­per Rugby ac­tion

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport/opinion - By STEVEN SA­MUELS

An­other en­thralling week­end of Su­per Rugby ac­tion with ev­ery New Zealand team play­ing, start­ing on Fri­day night with the High­landers against the Hur­ri­canes.

This game had a spicy el­e­ment with play­ers Hosea Gear, An­drew Hore and Ma’a Nonu all hav­ing been pre­vi­ous long-time Hur­ri­canes play­ers.

An­drew Hore and Hosea Gear both started and played well, how­ever An­drew Hore’s time was short lived as he limped off with an an­kle in­jury early in the match. Nonu did not play.

The game was very tight to start with but even­tu­ally Con­rad Smith scored the first try for the Hur­ri­canes. The sec­ond try for the Hur­ri­canes was even bet­ter, when af­ter good lead-up play by the for­wards, Ben Franks found him­self one-on-one with Ben Smith.

Franks pro­ceeded to tram­ple over him and dived in for a great try scored by one of the big boys.

The High­landers man­aged to score a try, be­fore the Hur­ri­canes re­sponded with an­other of their own to seal the match.

It was a great match to watch with all the run­ning rugby.

The Chiefs man­aged to pick up their win­ning form again against the newly pro­moted South­ern Kings. The Chiefs were in a dan­ger­ous run­ning at­tack­ing mood, ev­i­denced by the man­ner by which they threw the ball around and dis­played a care­free at­ti­tude, mean­ing they were al­ways threat­en­ing to score.

It took them longer than ex­pected to cross the line, but fi­nally they scored out wide through Lelia Masaga. Masaga was able to add two fur­ther tries for a hat trick.

Gareth An­scombe’s goal-kick­ing form main­tained the best per­cent­age in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Although the Chiefs won, there are still ar­eas for im­prove­ment, es­pe­cially in the break­down area, where lots of penal­ties and turnovers have been con­ceded.

Good news on the in­jury front for the Chiefs with some play­ers due to re­turn to the squad such as lo­cal boys Bren­don Leonard and Richard Kahui.

The Kings have been com­pet­i­tive in their first three games so far, hav­ing beaten the West­ern Force, and fully jus­tify their place in the com­pe­ti­tion.

The game that made my week­end was the Six Na­tions de­cider be­tween Eng­land and Wales at Mil­le­nium Sta­dium.

The Welsh crowd came to life when the Na­tional An­thems were played and Land Of Our Fa­thers res­onated around the sta­dium.

The English have a long, sad his­tory of coming up short in Grand Slam-clinch­ing games. Losses in re­cent me­mory in­clude 2011 when Ire­land won 24 – 8 in Dublin, 1999 when the Welsh de­feated Eng­land 32 -31 in Cardiff, and 1990 when Gavin Hast­ings in­spired Scot­land to pre­vail at Mur­ray­field.

The first half was mainly a tight kick­ing bat­tle with Welsh full­back Leigh Half­penny scor­ing three penal­ties in the first half, with English first five Owen Far­rell scor­ing one penalty. The game was still very close un­til winger Alex Cuth­bert scored two quick tries to se­cure the ti­tle.

Wales had to win by at least seven points to se­cure the Grand Slam, and this they achieved hand­somely with a 30 – 3 vic­tory, send­ing the fans into delir­ium.

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