The 2015 Asteron Life Super Rugby competition kicked off with both finalists from 2014, the NSW Waratahs and Crusaders going down at home to the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels respectively.
For the Melbourne Rebels, it was the club’s first ever win outside Australia, while the Western Force had their first ever victory in an opening round.
In the Australian derby match, the Brumbies put a Queensland Reds side struggling with injury to the sword in Canberra.
Melbourne Rebels 20 defeated the Crusaders 10
The Melbourne Rebels had a history making victory taking down the might of the Crusaders in Christchurch, with an energetic and focused performance to topple Super Rugby’s most successful franchise.
Tries to Lopeti Timani and Nic Stirzaker along with the boots of Mike Harris gave the visitors the victory, setting up a huge match back in Melbourne at AAMI Park, against last year’s Asteron Life Super Rugby champions, the Waratahs.
Head coach Tony McGahan was full of praise for his side in particular his forwards.
“I thought our forward pack were outstanding, and did a lot of really good work both in the set piece and around the field,” McGahan said. “People might have been surprised that we started Lopeti Timani in the second row, but he was great tonight.
“We came here expecting a really tough challenge but also knowing what we are capable of, and while it’s great to get our first win on foreign soil under the belt it’s important that we focus on next week. We’ll come up against a Waratahs side full of internationals, and that’s another exciting challenge.”
Brumbies 47 defeated the Queensland Reds 3
The Brumbies blew away the Queensland Reds in the first Australian derby clash of 2015 by six tries to none. Although the Reds have been tested with injuries in the early part of their campaign, ill-discipline cost the 2011 Champions.
Ben Alexander, playing in his 100th match for the Brumbies was a standout at the set piece as was David Pocock. Pocock in his first Super Rugby match since over-coming injury was a rock a the breakdown, pressuring the Reds at every contest, and creating headaches for Karmichael Hunt who was forced to fill in at flyhalf.
After the match Head Coach Stephen Larkham praised his team’s discipline, although put the result into perspective.
“Last year we were the most penalized side in the competition, so it was a focus for us to make sure we didn’t give away silly penalties,” Larkham said.
“I was impressed with the way we kept momentum and pressure on our side, The Reds struggled to get any ball in the first half and that went a long way to us winning the game.
“We aren’t getting ahead of ourselves, we have a tough match on the road next weekend. But certainly for a first up hit out it was satisfying.”
Western Force 25 defeated the NSW Waratahs 13
The Western Force brought last year’s Asteron Life Super Rugby champions back to Earth with a defeat in Sydney and proved that in their 10th year of Super Rugby, they are no easy beats.
With a dominate set piece and one of the best defensive teams in the competition the Force executed their game plan of stifling the Waratahs of quick ball to their strike players.
Although not the result the Waratahs were seeking, it was a strong outcome for 20 271 fans to see daytime Rugby return to Allianz Stadium.
Former Waratahs and Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley was proud of the Western Australian side, not only for their grit, but their composure as well.
“It was very courageous. You come into a game like this knowing what sort of challenge it is: you’re playing the best team in the comp at their home first up, which we did last year.
“You know what it’s going to take because your footy’s not going to be perfect this time of year. I take my hat off to the courage that was shown out there today and I thought the defence was magnificent.
“It’s a massive challenge to beat the Waratahs and part of that challenge is to remain composed when things don’t quite go well for you and they have their moments. I thought our guys were excellent in that space today.”