Three rounds to go and it’s still tight on both ends of the table. While the Brumbies enjoyed the weekend off, the Waratahs took over top spot in the Asteron Life Super Rugby Conference with an impressive win against the Crusaders. The Reds were beaten by a determined Sharks outfit on Friday night while the Force battled against a rising Highlanders on Saturday. The Rebels wrapping up the weekend in Cape Town, going down swinging against an in-form Stormers side.
But here are the talking points…
1. JOC’s Friday night fright..
Not a night for James O’Connor to remember. A verbal slanging match with Adam Thomson at half time before a mis-hit kick gifted the Sharks a try while the game was in the balance. We all know what he can do on the footy field, especially from fullback but this just wasn’t his night.
2. Kerevi busting into contention
JOC’s dramas certainly weren’t contagious though, Samu Kerevi again showing his rise and rise. The centre racked up 138 run metres off three clean breaks while recording a match-high 14 carries, seven tackle busts, two offloads and not to mention a try. The 21-year old has been to a Wallabies morning-after meet already this season after Michael Cheika revealed Kerevi was in his plans, but will the World Cup come too soon for the 21-year old?
3. Tahs tightrope
A crazy game at ANZ Stadium, plenty of points but also more than enough headaches for Michael Cheika and the Waratahs. Will Skelton and Tolu Latu have been cited for a lifting tackle but it’s the involvement of Latu that has Cheika concerned. The hooker was sin-binned for his part in the tackle and with the Tatafu Polota-Nau already out with concussion, the Tahs can ill afford to lose Latu for their tour of South Africa.
4. Dane Haylett-Petty is a rising Force
The Highlanders were the stars on Saturday in Perth putting in a dominant display but Dane Haylett-Petty proved a menace all night long. A game-high 18 carries for 123 metres, two tackle busts and two offloads, while also as safe as houses under the high ball. The 25-year old has just signed a two-year extension and it could prove the best deal the Force have done in a long time.
5. Rebels’ set piece problems
A tough night in the office for the Rebels with the Stormers’ forwards on song in Cape Town. The Stormers winning two scrums against the feed in the first half while the Rebels’ pack went backwards in the second 40 for South African table toppers to extend their lead. The lineout no better for the men from Melbourne, heading into the weekend it was the statistically the worst in the competition, and it looked that way against the Stormers.