Chiefs pip Brumbies in heavyweight cliff-hanger
It was a rematch of the 2013 finalists and could well have been a preview of this season’s big end-of-year games. Impressive first-up winners the Chiefs and Brumbies produced a gripping, high-quality showdown in New Plymouth, with All Blacks No.10 Aaron Cruden – rested from the Chiefs’ Round 1 outing – coolly slotting an after-the-siren penalty goal to snatch a 19-17 victory.
Reds’ courage under fire
Rocked by Karmichael Hunt’s cocaine scandal a day earlier, then by James O’Connor’s late withdrawal, the Reds’ 18-6 victory over the Force was a stirring backs-to-the-wall effort at a sodden Suncorp Stadium. Lachie Turner – donning the No.15 after Hunt was stood down – scored a sensational try, while extended pressure resulted in a match-sealing penalty try during the second half. Pitched into the unfamiliar flyhalf role, back-up halfback Nick Frisby’s determined and polished performance typified the Reds’ admirable effort.
Crusaders outlast rusty Highlanders
The Crusaders rebounded from their dismal Round 1 loss to the Rebels with an impressive 26-20 defeat of the Highlanders in Dunedin. Colin Slade starred in his preferred No.10 jersey following the injury to Dan Carter as the Crusaders powered to a 20-7 halftime lead, before withstanding a Highlanders fight-back in the second stanza. With Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock, Andy Ellis and Nameni Nadolo still to come back, the signs are positive for the perennial contenders. The Highlanders, who had the pesky first-round bye, were unmistakably scratchy but will be better for the run ahead of Friday’s home clash with the Reds.
Rebels show pluck in Waratahs loss
Two weeks into the 2015 season, the Rebels have proved they are determined to make a mark in this year’s competition. The Waratahs struggled to shake last year’s wooden spooners before ultimately running out 38-28 winners in Melbourne. The Rebels are a tenacious outfit with an outstanding loose forward trio and some backline class; more wins will come their way. Meanwhile, the Waratahs’ Wallabies stars Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale were sensational, and they may have uncovered a World Cup winger in the shape of giant Taqele Naiyaravoro, who scored a barnstorming second half double – although a lack of union rules knowledge saw the rugby league convert spend 10 minutes in the bin.
Hurricanes poised to live up to potential
Two matches in South Africa to start the season is about as gruelling as it gets, but the Hurricanes return from their arduous trip with two wins in the bank and plenty of confidence in their 2015 prospects. Boasting arguably the most electrifying backline in the competition, the ’Canes’ pack stood up massively again in the 17-13 win over the rugged Bulls. It was truly a game of inches, however, with an errant fingertip all that stood between a late match-winning try and a second straight defeat for the Bulls.
Stormers pick of the South African sides
The Stormers are two from two and top of the conference after a 27-16 victory over the Blues. Although the sending-off of Blues lock Hayden Triggs for punching midway through the first half had a major impact on the contest, it was a clinical display from the burgeoning Stormers as they now look to away derbies against the Lions and Sharks over the next fortnight.
SUPER XV ROUND 2 RESULTS
Chiefs 19 d. Brumbies 17 at Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth
Waratahs 38 d. Rebels 28 at AAMI Park
Hurricanes 17 d. Bulls 13 at Loftus Versfeld
Crusaders 26 d. Highlanders 20 at Forsyth Barr Stadium
Reds 18 d. Force 6 at Suncorp Stadium
Stormers 27 d. Blues 16 at Newlands
Sharks 29 d. Lions 12 at Kings Park