Round 11 of Asteron Life Super Rugby brought with it a host of close encounters, with four of seven games decided by eight points or less, with the biggest winning margin was just 16 points. The Aquis Brumbies and NSW Waratahs recorded wins, while the Western Force, RaboDirect Rebels and St.George Queensland Reds lost in tense games across the Anzac weekend.
Chiefs 35 defeated Force 27
The Western Force were in the hunt for their first win since Round One on Friday night, but had to compete with just 14 men after scrumhalf Ian Prior was sent off for a dangerous tackle. Ten minutes into the second half, the Force were down 30-8 but a Matt Hodgson inspired comeback saw them narrow the margin to just eight. Angus Cottrell, Luke Morahan, Matt Hodgson and Heath Tessmann all crossed the line for the Perth side, but the Chiefs split the uprights six times which proved the difference.
Western Force Coach, Michael Foley: “We took opportunities on the weekend better than we had in the previous few games and that was a really good sign. We’ve got to take our time, make sure we understand how we are going to get momentum against them and repeat what we did against the Chiefs…take those opportunities that are on offer. If we keep 15 men on the field we should be able to defend a bit better as well.”
Brumbies 31 defeated Highlanders 18
A David Pocock hat-trick inside the first half helped the Aquis Brumbies to a 31-18 win over the Highlanders on Friday night, as the Canberra side firmed their position at the top of the Australian Conference. All three of Pocock’s tries came off the back of a rolling maul, as the incumbent No.7 benefited from an impressive Brumbies pack. Out wide, they were equally solid, with Tevita Kuridrani and Jesse Mogg proving their worth after returning from injury.
Brumbies centre Christian Lealiifano: “We got off to a really good start, the boys were pumped up. We trained really well during the week and it was good to get our game back on track. We’re happy with the performance and now we’ve got something to move forward on. They [the forwards] were unreal tonight. They stepped up big time, not only with the three rolling maul tries but just with their work rate around the park as well.”
Waratahs 18 defeated Rebels 16
The NSW Waratahs retained the Weary Dunlop Shield in a gritty affair at ANZ Stadium, overcoming a hail storm and a willful Rebels side to secure the win. It was one for the purists, with three tries to the Waratahs and just one from the Melbourne outfit on offer. Young Rebels flyhalf Jack Debreczeni was impressive, kicking four penalties to keep the game in the balance, but it wasn’t enough as Michael Hooper, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Rob Horne all crossed the line to secure another Waratahs win.
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika: "I don't think anyone's going to be shaking in their boots down there after that. Far too close. Especially when you've got a guy [Debreczeni] who I say could have kicked one from nearly 60 metres out the way he was kicking towards the end."
Rebels coach Tony McGahan: “We were very disappointed that we gave them so many opportunities in the opening half. That is uncharacteristic of how we play, and what we are capable of, and a good opposition will always take advantage if your defending isn’t good enough.”
Hurricanes 35 defeated Reds 19
The St.George Queensland Reds and the table-topping Hurricanes exchanged early blows in their Sunday afternoon clash, but a yellow card to Queensland flanker Liam Gill proved costly, as the Hurricanes made them pay on the scoreboard. Reds centre Samu Kerevi scored a double in the opening half against one of the best centre pairings in the game, Ma Nonu and Conrad Smith, but the unpredictability of the New Zealand side was too much to contain.
Reds coach Richard Graham: We started the game exceptionally well. We were direct, abrasive and patient. You can see throughout this five game period how much we’ve improved given a little continuity in selection."
"I look back at the game and can identify a number of areas that put us under pressure. In the first half the six penalties at the tackle and offside line initially gave them points and then field position. The turnovers gave them opportunities and we’ve seen through the competition that they are the best in the business when the game becomes loose."
To see where your team stands head here to the Asteron Life Super Rugby Table