SuperRugby sparkles with stunning play by the debutants
There was some scintillating rugby as the new SuperRugby league kicked off this weekend.
In one of the earlier matches, South African side, the Lions won their first outing of the season 26-13 but were made to work extremely hard by a plucky Sunwolves side in Tokyo.
After a frenetic start to the match, in which both teams gave the ball air in the opening five minutes, Sunwolves flyhalf Tusi Pisi opened the scoring with a penalty to give the Japanese side the lead.
The Lions quickly moved into gear, putting the Sunwolves under immense pressure, but Elton Jantjies could not take advantage and missed two penalty attempts at goal.
It took until the 20th minute for the Lions to finally open their account with an unconverted try by hooker Robbie Coetzee after a strong driving maul.
They extended their lead in the 34th minute with a converted try by winger Courtnall Skosan who ghosted over after a brilliant inside pass by Jantjies gave him acres of space.
Pisi added a further penalty for the Sunwolves just before half-time and the teams went into the break with the Lions leading 12-6.
In the second half, the Sunwolves continued to force the Lions to work extremely hard for points.
The visitors converted tries through Jaco Kriel and Lionel Mapoe while the Sunwolves sent the home crowd into raptures with their first try in Super Rugby scored through captain and hooker, Shota Horie.
By scoring three tries more than their opponents, the Lions secured a valuable bonus point.
In another match, the Chiefs outscored the Crusaders four tries to two to claim a deserved 27-21 victory in Christchurch on Friday. As has become customary between two New Zealand sides, there was plenty of thrilling action throughout and the match was evenly poised until the Chiefs secured victory with a late Sam Cane try.
Damian McKenzie was the Chiefs’ hero, contributing 12 points via a try, two conversions and a long-range penalty from the halfway mark.
New flyhalf Richie Mo’unga impressed for the Crusaders and scored a try, conversion and three penalties to finish the match with a 16-point haul.
The opening half-hour was a scrappy affair as both sides tried to gain the ascendancy. Mo’unga opened the scoring for the Crusaders from the kicking tee as early as the first minute after the Chiefs were penalised at a scrum.
The next points came 20 minutes later when Mo’unga added another three-pointer from the kicking tee before McKenzie opened the Chiefs’ account with his penalty from 50 metres out.
Shortly afterwards, the Chiefs took the lead when Scott Stevenson ripped the ball from the grasp of David Havili inside the Crusaders’ 22 before crossing for the opening try.
The Jaguares emerged 34-33 winners against the Cheetahs in what was a highly entertaining Super Rugby clash in Bloemfontein on Friday night.
The Cheetahs scored four tries in the first half to the Jaguares’ two and at one stage had a 24-3 lead, but in the end it was the men from Argentina and their flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez who got over the line.
Ill-discipline had cost the Super Rugby debutants in the opening period, and at one stage they were down to 13 men.
But when their numbers were restored the Jaguares became a far more dangerous outfit, and by half-time they had clawed their way back to 17-24 as the Cheetahs began to run out of steam.
The hosts could not score a try in the second half, while the Jaguares scored two more as they began their Super Rugby venture with a victory. – Sport24 Other results: 1.
DIVE Harumichi Tatekawa of the Sunwolves is tackled during the Super Rugby Round 1 match against the Lions at the Prince Chichibu Stadium yesterday in Tokyo