Vodafone Super Rugby wrap: Bulls thump Stormers, hat-trick helps Lions down Jaguares

Super Rugby
by RUGBY.com.au staff

Super Rugby opened a new season with some nail biters and a handful of one-sided victories, too.

How did the results fall in round one?

Highlanders vs Chiefs


All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith scored a 76th minute try as the Highlanders beat the Chiefs 30-27, refusing to roll over despite being reduced to 14 men in the opening game of Super Rugby in Hamilton.

The Highlanders played a man short for the final 15 minutes on Friday after replacement centre Sio Tomkinson was sent off for a dangerous head high tackle on All Black lock Brodie Retallick.

Tomkinson appeared to be unlucky as Retallick ducked into the tackle, which referee Glen Jackson ruled was also principally a shoulder charge after several television replays.

Lock Pari Pari Parkinson and replacement flanker Shannon Frizell also scored tries for the Highlanders, who never let the Chiefs get too far ahead with the unerring boot of five-eighth Josh Ioane adding 15 points.

Winger Etene Nanai-Seturo scored two tries for the Chiefs, who controlled much of the game only to be undone by the Highlanders' bench adding some much-needed impetus in the final quarter.

RESULT

Highlanders 30

Tries: Parkinson, Frizell, A Smith

Cons: Ioane 3

Pens: Ioane 3

Chiefs 27

Tries: Ardon, Ta’avao, Nanai-Seturo 2

Con: Weber 2

Pen: Donald

Brumbies vs Rebels


Rebels coach Dave Wessels lauded new flyhalf Quade Cooper's composure in a 34-27 win over the Brumbies while the ACT side were left to contemplate a high-profile injury list headlined by star flanker David Pocock.

The Rebels trailed by three points at the break but with the wind at their back in the second, the game opened up for the visitors and Cooper was a key part of that.

In his first competitive Super Rugby game since 2017, the 30-year-old directed the Rebels attack with composure and opened up opportunities for his teammates.

Cooper's reputation for unpredictability precedes him but it was his composure that Rebels coach Dave Wessels and captain Dane Haylett-Petty praised post-match.

"I thought Quade was great. I thought Willy G was great as well, Billy Meakes as well," Wessels said post-match.

Read the full match report here

RESULT

Brumbies 27

Tries: Faingaa, Arnold, Alaalatoa, Carter

Cons: Lealiifano 2

Pens: Lealiifano

Rebels 34

Tries: Maddocks 2, English, Philip, Rangi

Cons: Cooper 3

Crusaders vs Blues


The Crusaders have opened their Super Rugby title defence with a dramatic 24-22 win over the Blues in Auckland, aided by two penalty tries.

The nine-time champions scored four tries to three on Saturday at Eden Park, but only clung to victory when Blues reserve five-eighth Harry Plummer missed two late shots at goal.

Making his maiden Super Rugby appearance, Plummer skewed a handy conversion attempt and then a 45m penalty shot, both inside the final seven minutes of a fiercely fought Kiwi derby.

It was a gut-wrenching result for new Blues head coach Leon MacDonald, whose team look highly competitive and capable of breaking a seven-season run of failing to reach the finals.

The Crusaders, chasing a third-straight crown, did enough through the efficiency of their pack and the brilliant running of outside centre Braydon Ennor, who outshone Blues opposite Ma'a Nonu.

Former All Blacks great Nonu, 36, was making his first Super Rugby appearance since returning from three seasons at Toulon. He played the last half-hour alongside former Test partner Sonny Bill Williams, who came off the bench.

RESULT

Blues 22

Tries: A Ioane, Tu’ungafasi, Pulu

Cons: Black, Plummer,

Pen: Black

Crusaders 24

Tries: Mataele 2, Penalty Try 2

Waratahs vs Hurricanes


Bernard Foley couldn’t pull off the Iceman routine again to claim a last-gasp victory for the Waratahs but he says the miss won’t stop him backing himself to nail match-winners.

After the Hurricanes scored a try to take the lead with just four minutes left at Brookvale Oval, Foley had a shot at goal with a minute left to snatch a dramatic win for NSW in their Super Rugby season opener.

Much to the disappointment of a sold-out 17,111 crowd, Foley pulled the kick slightly and the Hurricanes scraped home to win by a solitary point.

It was a second gut-wrenching defeat at Brookvale Oval after the Tahs’ 24-21 loss to the Blues last year, and the team will be left to rue the loss of a very winnable game.

Read the full match report here

Waratahs 19

Try: Rona

Con: Foley

Pens: Foley 4

Hurricanes 20

Tries: Savea, Kirifi

Cons: Barrett 2

Pens: Barrett 2

Sharks vs Sunwolves


The Sharks have overcome a slow start to cruise to a comfortable 45-10 victory over the Sunwolves in the opening round of the Super Rugby season.

The Durban-based Sharks side ran in six tries in total as their mix of pace and power proved too much for the Sunwolves.

The Tokyo-based Sunwolves had won their previous three home games at the tail-end of last season but were not match for the visitors in Singapore.

Sharks hooker Akker van der Merwe bagged two tries, his first on 16 minutes and his second in the 64th

No.8 Daniel du Preez (34th), wingers Sibusiso Nkosi (37th) and Makazole Mapimpi (46th), and centre Jeremy Ward (71st) also crossed the tryline for the Sharks.

RESULT

Sunwolves 10

Try: Gates

Con: Parker

Pen: Parker

Sharks 45

Tries: Van der Merwe 2, D. du Preez, Nkosi, Mapimpi, Ward

Cons: R. du Preez 5, Smith

Pen: R. Du Preez

Bulls vs Stormers

Sevens veteran Rosko Specman has scored two tries on debut on his Super Rugby debut as the Bulls brushed aside the Stormers 40-3 in a derby that is normally South Africa's most fiercely contested.

The visiting Stormers were second best after they forced a 20-minute delay to the start of the game at Loftus Versfeld with their bus was caught in traffic.

The contest was as good as over inside the opening 25 minutes with the hosts crossing for three of their four tries - with Specman touching down in the third and 18th - to take an unassailable advantage.

The Bulls were ferocious in their tackling and showed more intensity than their out-gunned opponents, putting in an impressive defensive effort with Springboks No.8 Duane Vermeulen leading from the front.

Bulls 40

Tries: Specman 2, Kotze, Kriel

Cons: Pollard 4

Pens: Pollard 4

Stormers 3

Pen: Marais

Jaguares vs Lions


Marnus Schoeman was the unlikely hero as South African visitors the Golden Lions buried a Super Rugby jinx Saturday by defeating the Jaguares in Argentina for the first time.  

The Johannesburg outfit triumphed 25-16 at Estadio Jose Amalfitani with Schoeman, not part of the original starting XV, scoring three tries.

Schoeman owed his place as a loose forward to a midweek injury sustained by first choice Kwagga Smith, which forced the Springbok to withdraw from the trip to South America.

The blond 30-year-old made the most of his unexpected opportunity by scoring after three, 32 and 50 minutes and becoming the only try-scorer to complete a hat-trick on the opening weekend of Super Rugby. 

"I can barely believe what I achieved," Schoeman said after the Lions ended a run of three consecutive southern hemisphere championship defeats by the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

"For a loose forward to score one try is great, two is amazing and three is unbelievable. I will travel home with a permanent smile on my face.

"Finally winning in Argentina is a fantastic achievement. We have battled here in the past three seasons and it is great to be part of the team that has ended the losing sequence."

RESULT

Jaguares 16

Try: Medrano

Con: Diaz Bonilla

Pens: Diaz Bonilla 3

Lions 25

Try: Schoeman 3

Cons: Jantjies 2

Pens: Jantjies 2