Super Rugby round two: Bulls shock Hurricanes, Crusaders kick off title defence

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by AAP & Beth Newman

It was a massive week in Super Rugby, as the Australian and New Zealand sides kicked off their campaigns.

Australia's sides finished with three wins out of four, with just the Reds posting a loss, at the hands of the Rebels on Friday night.

We've got you covered with all the highlights and results from the weekend.


A stand-out match from All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith has guided the Highlanders to a 41-34 win over the Blues in their Super Rugby season-opener in Dunedin.

Smith's intelligent kicking, sharp running and bullet passes proved pivotal as the Highlanders ran in five tries to the Blues' four in Friday's match at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The second-half sin-binning of Blues loose forward Antonio Kiri Kiri proved equally influential, with the Highlanders scoring twice in his absence to take a seven-point lead which they held to the end.

The Highlanders took full advantage of Kiri Kiri's 54th-minute yellow card for a high tackle on Sopoaga, inside centre Tei Walden crossing twice in four minutes.

The Highlanders maintained their seven-point lead with an exchange of penalties, holding on despite intense pressure from the Blues until the final whistle.


Highlanders 41

Tries: Waldon 2, Thompson 2, Tokolahi

Cons: Sopoaga 5

Pens: F. Smith


They say revenge is a dish best served cold and Will Genia was as cool as they come in his return to Super Rugby, steering the Rebels to a breezy 45-19 win over the Reds at AAMI Park.

Genia's masterclass was a cruel reminder for Reds fans that the star halfback no longer plies his trade at Ballymore but Queensland have far bigger concerns on their plate, with a suspension hanging over new skipper Scott Higginbotham's head.

Higginbotham was shown a red card for a high shoulder charge on Matt Philip in the 10th minute, putting his side on the back foot from the outset.

Full match report here.


Rebels 45

Tries: Naivalu 2, Haylett-Petty 2, Debreczeni 2, English

Cons: Debrecezni 5

Reds 19

Tries: Paia'aua, Kerevi, Feauai-Sautia

Cons: Tuttle 2


The Brumbies have escaped with an opening 2018 win over the Sunwolves, 32-25 in Tokyo. 

The ACT franchise has been widely tipped to top the Australian conference, but an outing like theirs in Tokyo didn’t give credence to much of that hype, trailing 14-3 just 15 minutes in.

They managed to claw their way back as the match ticked on, against a far improved Sunwolves side, but there were few clinical elements in their game, with even their trusty set piece failing to click early.

Full match report here.


Sunwolves 25 

Tries: Saumaki 2, Lafaele 

Cons: Nakamura, Parker 

Pens: Parker 

Brumbies 32 

Tries: McCaffrey, Godwin, Kuridrani, Mann-Rea 

Cons: Lealiifano 2 

Pens: Lealiifano


The Crusaders have kick-started their Super Rugby title defence with a gritty 45-23 win over the Chiefs in Christchurch, a controversial penalty try late in the second half proving key in the season-opening victory.

Ahead 26-23 on Saturday with 10 minutes remaining, the Crusaders attacked strongly when Ryan Crotty dived for the corner but was bundled out in a high tackle by replacement Chiefs loosie Lachlan Boshier.

Referee Ben O'Keeffe binned Boshier and awarded the penalty try, the Crusaders suddenly comfortable at 33-23 ahead.

The Chiefs had their chances, particularly after five-eighth Richie Mo'unga was binned in the 20th minute for playing the ball off his feet.

Leading 19-10, the Crusaders lost another man to a yellow card, four minutes after Mo'unga's return, with prop Michael Alaalatoa binned for a swinging arm in a tackle.

They held out the Chiefs until the 40th minute, the defence cracking when winger Solomon Alaimalo latched onto a pop pass from Damian McKenzie to score and reduce the Crusaders' lead to 19-17 at the break.

The Chiefs pressured from the restart, but were unable to convert their chances, held at bay by the Crusaders' powerful scrum before losing fullback Charlie Ngatai to an ankle injury after 55 minutes.

They still hit the front for the first time soon after through a McKenzie penalty, only for Sam Whitelock to crash over seven minutes later to steal it back for the Crusaders 26-20.

A 50m penalty from McKenzie gave the Chiefs brief hope, before the game was settled by the 70th-minute penalty try.


Crusaders 45

Tries: Todd, Mo'unga, Taufua, Whitelock, Bridge, Mataele

Cons: Mo'unga 3, Kaetau Havili

Chiefs 23

Tries: Alaimalo, Cane

Cons: McKenzie 3

Pens: McKenzie 2


An 81st-minute Ned Hanigan try has sealed a 34-27 win at the death for the Waratahs over the Stormers.

Both sides had traded blows at every opportunity all night, with each score responded to in kind and the Waratahs had the bulk of the chances late, but coughed up the ball a handful of times.

A young front row took an unlikely tighthead in the scrum and the Waratahs had one last chance to attack, as the siren blew, with Hanigan taking the last pass off Harry Johnson-Holmes to score almost a minute after full-time.

Full match report here.


Waratahs 34 

Tries: Folau, Hooper, Fitzpatrick, Hanigan 

Cons: Foley 4 

Pens: Foley 2 

Yellow Cards: Simmons (57’) 

Stormers 27

Tries: Kitshoff, Van Wyk, Marais 

Cons: Marais 2 

Pens: Marais 2


Last season's losing Super Rugby finalists the Lions have overcome an early deficit to remain unbeaten after two games with a 47-27 win over the Jaguares in Johannesburg.

Left wing Aphiwe Dyantyi continued his scintillating start to the season with two of those tries for the Lions after scoring on his debut last weekend.

The Lions were behind thanks to a try by Emiliano Boffelli in the third minute and a penalty before finding their attacking edge at Ellis Park.

Dyantyi, who was playing university rugby not long ago, was partly responsible for that with the opener for the Lions in the 27th. He went over again early in the second half and by that time the Lions were in control.


Lions 47

Tries: Dyantyi 2, Coetzee, Mahuze,  Janse Van Rensburg, Whiteley

Cons: Jantjies 5


Tries: Delguy 2, Boffelli

Cons: Sanchez 3

Pens: Sanchez, Boffelli


Beauden Barrett's late cameo and Super Rugby milestone weren't enough to prevent the Bulls shocking the Hurricanes with a 21-19 win in Pretoria.

The hosts provided an early-season fillip for new coach John Mitchell and for South African rugby with a bright performance against the rusty-looking Hurricanes, who trailed 16-12 at halftime.

A 72nd-minute try to Bulls prop Pierre Schoeman proved the match-winner in a close affair, with both sides crossing three times.

The Hurricanes' fitness levels appeared to lag in the thin air, with their error count and concession of penalties problematic in the second spell.

They were outpointed in areas they would normally expect to shade the youthful Bulls side, such as running metres and offloads, leaving room for improvement ahead of next week's clash with the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.


Bulls 21

Tries: Schoeman, De Jager, Kotze

Pens: Pollard 2

Hurricanes 19

Tries: Riccitelli, Goosen, Barrett

Cons: West 2