Vodafone Super Rugby Wrap: Finals contenders whittled down in round 15

Super Rugby
by RUGBY.com.au staff

Another big weekend of Super Rugby has wrapped up and the finals contenders have been whittled down again.

Missed any game? We've got you covered - every highlight, result and scorer right here.

CHIEFS vs REDS

Reds coach Brad Thorn has refused to dwell on his team's season-halting loss to the Chiefs, pointing instead to the young team's "gutsy" effort in Hamilton and the bright future that lies ahead.

Youth has been a dirty word this season at Ballymore as the Reds banished excuses while hunting their first Super Rugby finals appearance in six years.

But as their chances evaporated in the heartbreaking 19-13 loss, Thorn pointed out the Reds' reality - that they are a young group still coming to terms with the consistency required at the highest levels despite refusing to say die.

"It was gutsy. It went down to the wire at the end there and disappointing not to get that result," Thorn said of just failing to get across the line from an 80th minute drive for a try that could have pinched a crucial win.

"For us, the first half I felt we were mainly hurting ourselves - putting kicks out on the full or guys executing little things - but it was a slugfest in the end and we didn't quite get across the line."

Read full match report here.

RESULT

Chiefs 19

Tries: Sowakula, Moli, Nanai-Seturo

Cons: McKenzie 2

Reds 13

Tries: Tupou

Cons: Hegarty

Pens: Hegarty 2

BRUMBIES vs BULLS

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has urged the Canberra community to get behind the Brumbies after another low crowd turned out for their 22-10 bonus-point win against the Bulls on Friday night.

Just 6,311 turned out to watch the Brumbies defeat the Bulls on Friday night in a victory that has put them in the box seat for a home quarter-final.

While that figure alone is not a record low, with just one more regular season home game this year, it could contribute to the side's lowest season-average crowd in Super Rugby history.

The Brumbies have found their feet on the field this season  - Friday night's match was the Brumbies' sixth home win in a row and the fifth from their past six matches. but McKellar admitted his disappointment at the small crowds.

"It's disappointing at the moment," he said.

"We want to play in front of bigger crowds - we feel like we're putting on a performance that the community can resonate with and connect with and get behind.

"(I just want to) encourage people to get back out here and get behind the Brumbies.

"If we don't, things will be dire and that's the reality. We've got to get support for this team. At the moment, we're probably a little bit off there."

Read full match report here.

RESULT

Brumbies 22

Tries: Kuridrani 3, Simone

Cons: Lealiifano

Yellow Cards: Cusack (15’)

Bulls 10

Tries: Liebenberg

Cons: Libbok

Pens: Libbok

SUNWOLVES vs REBELS

The Rebels have taken a critical 52-7 bonus-point win over the Sunwolves in Tokyo to keep themselves in the Super Rugby finals hunt.

It was a match the Rebels simply had to win to stay in touch with the Australian conference leaders the Brumbies and the Melbourne outfit did their bit with the comfortable win.

The victory was a record-breaking one for the Rebels who have struggled on the road this season, with the 52 points their highest Super Rugby tally ever.

After a grinding start, the Rebels turned up the pace and things really began to open up through some quick recycles and smart offloads.

Flyhalf Quade Cooper had a hand in almost every score for the Rebels with his slick, rapid passes and that proved to be the key as the Rebels mounted some dominance.

They were damaging at lineout time, picking off the Sunwolves set piece and generating some strong attack with their own.

Read full match report here.

RESULT

Sunwolves 7

Tries: Emery

Cons: Parker

Rebels 52

Tries: Koroibete 2, Maddocks 2, Cottrell, D Haylett-Petty, Ruru, Uelese

Cons: Cooper 6

Yellow Cards: Philip (21’)

CRUSADERS vs BLUES

Richie Mo'unga had a hand in all of the Crusaders points as they put a controversial week off the field behind them by beating the Blues 19-11 in a patchy Super Rugby derby in Christchurch.

Mo'unga slotted four penalties and provided a deft chip kick over the defensive line that led to Bryn Hall's first half try in a stop-start match that never really got any flow on Saturday.

Blues counterpart Harry Plummer kicked two penalties for the visitors, who struggled in the set piece and did not threaten the Crusaders' line until Rieko Ioane crossed in the 71st minute.

The Crusaders moved to 53 points with the victory, 13 ahead of the second-placed Hurricanes, who have a bye this week.

The Christchurch-based side have two games remaining and are all but guaranteed to finish top, with the Hurricanes needing to win all three of their remaining games with bonus points and hope the Crusaders fail to add to their tally.

It was a disjointed match in slippery conditions with the home side having had an unsettled preparation, having returned from South Africa late on Monday.

RESULT

Crusaders 19

Tries: Hall

Cons: Mo'unga

Pens: Mo'unga 3

Blues 11

Tries: Ioane

Pens: Plummer 2

WARATAHS vs JAGUARES


The Waratahs say they'll keep "answering the bell" despite putting their finals hopes are on life-support after a 23-15 loss to the Jaguares at Bankwest Stadium.

Though still mathematically a chance to pick up a wildcard with three rounds left to go, the Tahs’ are all-but cooked in their pursuit of the Australian conference title after the Argentinians continued their three-game unbeaten run against NSW.

In a stop-start, defence-heavy game, the Waratahs trailed 17-3 midway through the second half and though the hosts scored twice to make a game of it at 17-15, the Jaguares literally kicked away with two crucial penalties in the last 15 minutes.

With the Rebels and the Brumbies both securing bonus-point wins this round, NSW are stuck eight points adrift and are all-but out of the Aussie conference race.

To sneak a wildcard they’d have to win all games and rely on a number of teams sitting a win ahead of them to collectively fall in a heap.

Read full match report here.

RESULT

Waratahs 15

Tries: Penalty try, Rona

Pens: Foley

Jaguares 23

Tries:  Moyano 2

Cons: Miotti 2

Pens: Diaz Bonilla 2, Miotti

STORMERS vs HIGHLANDERS 

Western Stormers outscored Otago Highlanders by four tries to three as they triumphed 34-22 in Cape Town Saturday to keep alive hopes of making the Super Rugby play-offs.    

The victory at Newlands stadium after leading 17-3 at half-time lifted the hosts five places to eighth, the last position that secures a place in the knockout phase.

Defeat completed a point-less two-match tour of South Africa for the New Zealanders and they slipped one place to 10th with just two regular season fixtures remaining.

The Stormers visit the Lions next weekend, then host the Japanese Sunwolves and the Coastal Sharks while the Highlanders play the Northern Bulls and the NSW Waratahs at home.

TV analyst and former South Africa coach Nick Mallett praised both teams, saying: "It was an enjoyable match of running rugby in which (Stormers winger) Dillyn Leyds was outstanding."

Out-of-favour Springbok Leyds did not score, but his elusive running caused endless problems for the Highlanders.

RESULT

Stormers 34

Tries: Jantjies, Kolisi, Wiese, du Plessis

Cons: Stander 3, du Plessis

Pens: Stander, du Plessis

Highlanders 22

Tries: Tomkinson, Naholo, Tokolahi

Cons: Banks, Hollinshead

Pens: Banks

SHARKS vs LIONS

Two intercept tries have proven crucial as the Sharks beat the Lions 27-17 at King's Park in a key Super Rugby contest for both sides as they battle for post-season playoff places.

Sharks pivot Curwin Bosch scored one of the tries and added 12 more points with his boot to help the Sharks to four vital points on Saturday as they moved up to second place in the South African conference, three points more than the Lions, with both sides having three more regular-season games.

Saturday's loss for the visitors from Johannesburg kept up a dismal record of no wins this season for the Lions against fellow South African teams.

RESULT

Sharks 27

Tries: Bosch, D du Preez, Mapimpi

Cons: Bosch 2

Pens: Bosch

Lions 17

Tries: Mapoe, Brink

Cons: Jantjies 2

Pens: Jantjies