Brumbies stay atop Aussie conference
The Brumbies continue to get the job done, disposing of the Cheetahs 20-3 to retain first place in the Australian conference. Their capacity to get on top of the competition’s heavyweights remains a question mark – the Brumbies’ two losses have been to the Chiefs and Waratahs – but they boast by the far the best defensive record of any side in 2015, conceding just 83 points at less than 12 a game.
How low can Reds go?
The star-studded Reds are 1-6 and only one measly competition point above the bottom-placed Blues. Their 23-15 loss to the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday effectively served last rites to their slim finals chances. A red card dished out to James Horwill in the 20th minute ultimately brought the hapless Queenslanders undone, surrendering a 15-10 lead as the Rebels clinched victory via a brilliant try finished off by halfback Nic Stirzaker.
Luckless Blues stay winless
The Blues remain anchored to the bottom of the Super Rugby ladder, suffering their seventh loss from as many outings on Saturday – a plucky 23-16 loss to the Chiefs. But whether John Kirwan’s embattled outfit is the worst-performed team so far in 2015 is up for debate. The Blues have not lost by more than 12 points all year, while their 118 points for (equal-12th in the Super XV) and 164 points against (10th) belie their 0-7 record. The Blues led the title favourite Chiefs 13-10 early in the second half before being overrun once again; a maiden victory is surely just around the corner…but with upcoming clashes against the Brumbies, Highlanders and Crusaders, they could conceivably be none from 10.
Crusaders sound a warning
The Crusaders have struggled for consistency throughout 2015, but there’s little doubt they are the competition’s most unstoppable side when they are playing at full capacity. Despite the absence of Dan Carter, the perennial heavyweights destroyed the South African conference-leading Sharks 52-10 in Durban, running in eight tries in a devastating attacking performance. It was another Kings Park clash plagued by ill-discipline, with Crusaders trio Nepo Laulala, Kieron Fonotia and Nameni Nadolo all yellow-carded inside the last five minutes of the first half, before Sharks flanker Jean Deysel was sent off in the first minute of the second stanza.
Lions’ remarkable run continues
The Lions have developed into something of a fairytale team after notching their fourth win in five games against the high-flying Bulls. Wooden spoon favourites at the start of the year, the Lions lost their first three games and were expected to be cannon fodder on their four-game overseas sojourn. But they returned with three victories in the bank, and have backed up that gritty form with an outstanding 22-18 win over the Bulls thanks to a late Armand van der Merwe try. It was the third time in the last five weeks the Lions have recovered from a halftime deficit to claim victory.
SUPER XV ROUND 8 RESULTS
Hurricanes 25 d. Stormers 20 @ Westpac Stadium
Rebels 23 d. Reds 15 @ AAMI Park
Chiefs 23 d. Blues 16 @ Waikato Stadium
Brumbies 20 d. Cheetahs 3 @ GIO Stadium
Crusaders 52 d. Sharks 10 @ Kings Park
Lions 22 d. Bulls 18 @ Ellis Park