Almanac Rugby – Super Rugby AU Rd 5/ Aotearoa Rd 4

Well the rugby certainly has been super the last couple of rounds.  On the weekend we had everything from the joyful homecoming of the Rebels on Friday night to the show of Force in Brisbane on Saturday night combined with the shootouts in New Zealand.


Rebels 33 Waratahs 14


It was a different looking Rebels that performed for their home fans for the first time in 2021. A good analysis by Brett McKay, a Canberra based rugby writer, showed that the Melburnians didn’t have a lot of ball (just 40% in fact) but used it wisely. It was a pleasure to be able to see my team play expansive rugby, where they looked to capitalise on as many opportunities as possible rather than falling back on their standard steady as she goes approach.


As I pointed out to Brett on Twitter, they were helped in no small measure by an absolutely abysmal effort from the visitors. The despondency and lack of purpose I saw in the eyes of so many Tahs players was quite shocking.


The Rebels completely dominated the game and were unlucky to concede the two consolation converted tries in the last ten minutes. The crisis in NSW Rugby is deep and seemingly intractable.


For the men of the Southern Cross, there was a lot to like in that performance including a pack that is showing more unity of purpose and a backline exuding more confidence and sparkle. And Matt Toomua’s chip and chase solo effort was magical.


Reds 26 Force 19


The Force have earned bonus points in all three of their losses, proving categorically they are up for the challenge. They  deserve to be in this competition. The Reds had to lift and noticeably shift gear in the second half to keep the Sandgropers at bay.


At the halfway point of the competition, the Brumbies and Reds are the pacesetters. The Rebels and Force, however, have shown enough to suggest they won’t die wondering. I am particularly excited to see what the Rebels can do with an unbroken run of three home games and then facing the Tahs in Sydney in the last round. A dream run if ever there was one.


Chiefs 35 Hurricanes 29


The men from Waikato had gone so long without winning there must have been trepidation going to Wellington. Initially, the horror run looked set to continue as the Canes put their opponents to the sword in the first half.


The Chiefs, though, have in their ranks someone who I think is one of the towering figures in world rugby. Not long ago Damian McKenzie had a lock on the All Blacks 15 jersey. He was entertaining fans around the world with his sublime skills and attacking dynamism. Over the last couple of years, the sheen has worn off a tad but his work rate and endeavour has hardly diminished. In the second half of this game, he was inspirational. He was a key figure in rallying the troops to play high wire rugby. This was a sweet victory for the Chiefs but I was just so happy to see that trademark McKenzie razzle dazzle on display.


Crusaders 43 Blues 27


The Chiefs can count their blessings to have McKenzie but the Crusaders have perhaps the greatest player on the planet at the moment. Richie Mo’onga is so good that he is legitimately being spoken of in the same breath as Dan Carter.


The Blues were very good in this game and looked on the cusp of an historic victory at various points, but they were invariably snubbed out by the steam train in the red ten jersey. It seemed he was in every play. If Mo’unga keeps playing at this level it is hard to see anyone getting close to the Crusaders, let alone beating them.


My highlights for the next rounds will be to see whether the Force can take it up to the Brumbies and the Chiefs v Blues game should be a cracker.




For more from Brian, click HERE.






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Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.


  1. Brian
    I appreciate your summaries. I no longer have a Kayo subscription and am reticent in getting Stan. Saturday night on Gem for me and will hopefully will get to a Rebels game soon. Still a Brumbie however having played in Canberra as a kid.

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