All the Winners and Losers
SUPER RUGBY WEEK TWO SPOTLIGHT: We take a quick look at who stepped up and who had a week to forget.
Winner – Aphiwe Dyantyi
The 23-year-old Lions winger has been huge for the Johannesburg franchise, scoring three tries in two weeks to lead the competition.
It looked like the wing could be a point of weakness for the Lions due to the absence of Springboks Courtnall Skosan (knee) and Ruan Combrinck (shoulder), but Dyantyi has stepped up and provided major strike power in the early stages of his first Super Rugby campaign.
Dyantyi has been a revelation, with a competition-high seven clean breaks, 14 defenders beaten and 209 running metres. He’s needed very little space to turn nothing into something and has been devastating in the open field, picking up a pair of tries in the Lions’ week two victory over the Jaguares.
Loser – Discipline
Discipline was a big loser over the weekend’s Super Rugby slate.
The Queensland Reds got the Brad Thorn era off to a hot start, with captain Scott Higginbotham lasting less than ten minutes before taking an early shower. The back row forward was shown a ninth-minute red card after delivering a shoulder to the head of Rebels lock Matt Philip. Higginbotham will be out of action for three weeks.
Just ten minutes later, Reds lock Lukhan Tui was lucky to escape with a yellow card after dumping Rebels halfback and former Red Will Genia on his head. Genia was lucky to escape with his neck still intact.
In Christchurch, Chiefs flanker Lachlan Boshier was shown a game-altering yellow card in the late stages of his team’s opening clash against the Crusaders. With his side down 26-23 in the 70th minute, Boshier was sent off for a high tackle on Ryan Crotty, after which a penalty try was also awarded.
This proved to be the difference as the Crusaders, who had two yellow cards in the first half, extended the scoreline out to 45-23 over the final ten minutes.
In total there were nine yellow cards and one red card handed out in week two. Sunwolves vs Brumbies was the only fixture that didn’t feature a sending off.
Winner – Beauden Barrett
During the Hurricanes opening loss to the Bulls the reigning World Player of the Year notched his 1000th Super Rugby point.
The achievement places Barrett in elite company, as he joins Morné Steyn, Dan Carter and Stirling Mortlock as one of only four players to ever reach the milestone.
At 26 years old, the Taranaki native is also the youngest to achieve the impressive feat, beating out Morné Steyn who scored his 1000th point at age 27.
Loser – North Island Teams
New Zealand’s North Island teams just didn’t have it in week two.
The Blues, Chiefs and Hurricanes all went down, while the South Island’s Crusaders and Highlanders emerged victorious
While two of the North Island losses came in New Zealand derbies, it was the Hurricanes who provided a shock.
The Hurricanes were upset by the Bulls 21-19 after conceding a 72nd minute try to prop Pierre Schoeman, in what coach Chris Boyd called “probably the worst performance” of his tenure.
Winner – Fans
Super Rugby is back in full swing after the first real round. The slimmed down competition is back to 15 teams, making the rugby a lot easier to digest and the format a lot easier to understand.
In terms of quality, this week didn’t disappoint, with five of the seven fixtures staying close until the end (or the last ten minutes for Chiefs fans), and there was even a couple of upsets (looking at you, Hurricanes).
Play will undoubtedly improve as we get deeper into the competition and teams continue to shake off the rust. For now, it seems the condensed format has already helped with competitiveness as a few of the weaker teams have been weeded out, resulting in some tight scorelines.
Loser – The Bash Brothers
After tearing up the Mitre 10 Cup, 20-year-old Wellington front rowers Asafo Aumua and Alex Fidow were poised to make their Super Rugby debuts against the Bulls in week two.
Unfortunately, it looks like we might have to wait a little longer to see the Hurricanes’ ‘Bash Brothers’ in action at the Super Rugby level. Aumua didn’t travel with the team to South Africa due to a lack of fitness, while Fidow was a late scratch from the bench.
The pair combined for 15 tries during Wellington’s championship-winning campaign in last year’s Mitre 10 Cup, and Aumua earned an end-of-year All Blacks call-up.