Tough weekend for Australian conference

by Staff Writer

Round 9 of Asteron Life Super Rugby was a tipster’s nightmare, with all four Australian teams falling to New Zealand and South African sides over the weekend.

The Aquis Brumbies went down to the Blues in Auckland, while the NSW Waratahs lost to the Stormers at Allianz Stadium. The Western Force were outrun by the Cheetahs at home and a spirited Queensland Reds outfit were beaten by the Bulls in Pretoria.

In a forgettable weekend for the Australian Conference, it marked the first time every Australian team has lost since Round 6 in 2009. Click here to see the Australian Conference ladder.

Blues v Aquis Brumbies (16-14)

The Aquis Brumbies lost to the Blues by two points, as the Auckland side broke a seven match losing streak to record their first win of 2015. Coming back from a 13-point deficit at halftime, the Brumbies led with a minute to play before Blues replacement fly-half Ihaia West converted a penalty from the sideline to put the home side in front. Brumbies halfback Nic White had a chance to steal victory after the bell, but the penalty sailed wide.

Head Coach Stephen Larkham said it was a tough result to swallow.

“We had a chance to win the game in the end, but letting the Blues get ahead of us with that big a margin in the first half proved too much to overcome,” Larkham said.

NSW Waratahs v Stormers (18-32)

The NSW Waratahs were chasing a third consecutive win at home but a fast finishing Stormers outfit was too strong for the defending champions. Taqele Naiyaravaro opened the Waratahs account with a barnstorming try, with Rob Horne crossing the line as well to give them a two-point advantage heading into the break. The second 40 minutes favoured the Stormers and saw them secure their first victory in Sydney since 2007.

"We knew they were going to have a very strong defensive line and we wanted to work inside shoulders, work the spaces between and be persistent in our attack," Adam Ashley-Cooper said.

“We didn't do that and that's why we let ourselves down."

Western Force v Cheetahs (15-24)

The Western Force dominated possession against the Cheetahs with 64%, but struggled to turn pressure into points in their Round 9 clash. Luke Morahan and Chris Alcock scored tries for the Force, while young gun Luke Burton added the extras. The Cheetahs only had two five-pointers of their own, but Joe Pietersen put the game out of reach with a conversion, three penalties and a field goal.

Western Force Captain Sam Wykes: “We really want to do well and it really hurts us that we didn’t get the result for the people that have been so loyal to us, but we’ll keep fighting.”

Coach Michael Foley echoed his captain’s words: “We had to finish them off; we had our foot on their throat and we didn’t do that. That’s the frustrating part when you think about the way we played physically in the wet early.”

Bulls v St.George Queensland Reds (43-22)

Despite having most of the ball and collecting a four-try bonus point, the St.George Queensland Reds, who were again affected by injuries, were unable to get on top of the Bulls in a high-scoring affair. The Reds four tries were scored by Nick Frisby, Lachie Turner, Will Genia and replacement Marco Kotze but the Queenslanders failed to contain a gutsy Bulls side in defence.

Queensland coach Richard Graham on his team’s loss.

“From 24–5 down at half time to 29–22 down 15 minutes later we had some momentum, however failure to execute a few plays and some key moments allowed them to regain control.”

“To score four tries at Loftus is a good achievement and usually enough to win the game. However to concede six and in the manner we did is disappointing. It is something we will need to address this week in the lead up to the Cheetahs,” Graham said.

Saturday 18 April will feature an Aussie triple-header. The Waratahs play the Hurricanes, the Brumbies pack down against the Rebels in a local derby and the Force take on the Stormers. Meanwhile, the Queensland Reds will continue their tour of South Africa with a game against the Cheetahs on Sunday morning to conclude Round 10 of Asteron Life Super Rugby.

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