Reds sink further
The Reds’ season is rapidly slipping away, crashing 18-17 to the Lions at Suncorp Stadium. The return of Quade Cooper, James O’Connor and co. failed to deliver a reversal of fortunes, notching their fourth straight loss as they languish in second-last. The Reds face the Rebels in Melbourne next up, followed by the arduous annual trip to South Africa – a tough place to turn a flagging season around.
Lions the pick of the SA travellers
South African sides traditionally find the going tough in New Zealand and Australia – and vice versa – which makes the Lions’ third win in four games on their overseas tour so remarkable. The Lions left South Africa with an 0-3 record and wooden spoon favouritism; they return just five points off the top six.
The Stormers didn’t fare so well in their first match abroad, trounced 39-21 by the Highlanders to surrender top spot in their conference to the Sharks. A scintillating double by Highlanders wing sensation Waisake Naholo was a standout feature of a high-scoring affair in Dunedin. The Cheetahs, meanwhile, put in a spirited performance in a 37-27 loss to the heavyweight Chiefs.
Tough times on the road in the Republic
The Crusaders topsy-turvy start to the season continued with their disappointing 31-19 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria, leaving the perennial contenders with a 3-3 record and ninth spot. The Force’s chances of a maiden finals berth are quickly dissipating, sinking to their sixth loss in succession – 15-9 to the Sharks in Durban. The Perth-based outfit are sitting 13th, above only the Reds and Blues.
Waratahs making a move
It was far less convincing than expected, but the Waratahs came from behind to overcome the Blues 23-11 and grab a place in the top six. The defending champs’ match-winning class told in the end against the struggling but committed Blues, sealing the result with a late try to Peter Betham. The Waratahs are now just two points adrift of the conference-leading Brumbies.
SUPER XV ROUND 7 RESULTS
Hurricanes 36 d. Rebels 12 @ Westpac Trust Stadium
Lions 18 d. Reds 17 @ Suncorp Stadium
Chiefs 37 d. Cheetahs 27 @ Waikato Stadium
Highlanders 39 d. Stormers 21 @ Forsyth Barr Stadium
Waratahs 23 d. Blues 11 @ Allianz Stadium
Sharks 15 d. Force 9 @ Kings Park
Bulls 31 d. Crusaders 19 @ Loftus Versfeld