Chiefs 19 – 17 Brumbies
Rebels 28 – 38 Waratahs
Bulls 13 – 17 Hurricanes
Highlanders 20 – 26 Crusaders
Reds 18 – 6 Force
Stormers 27 – 16 Blues
Sharks 29 – 12 Lions
Another week or two and we’ll have a pretty good handle on how this competition is going to play out.
I say that largely because, as a Hurricanes tragic, I don’t want to get my hopes up. I’ve been there before, and it’s not a happy place when the hopes crash and burn. But for them to get two out of two on the road in South Africa, at altitude, and at the beginning of the comp – well, you need to go back to 2006 for such a start. And they’re playing smart for 80 minutes, which is almost unheard of.
The Chiefs played smart enough to grab a win after the hooter – and we’ll all breathe a bit easier that Aaron Cruden kicked the clutch penalty – but they should be disappointed they’re having to play catch-up at home.
The Crusaders showed the benefit of having a game under their belt by slipping past a pretty good Highlanders performance. To complete the New Zealand story, the Blues showed some ticker to stay in touch with the Stormers despite playing with 14 for ¾ of the match. While heart is good, brains are essential.
Across the Tasman, the Reds still look unconvincing to me. Sure they bounced back after last week’s rubbish, and they did so despite the distraction of Karmichael Hunt‘s legal woes in the middle of the week, but it was against a Force team that looked exhausted after their upset against the Tahs in week one. So book both of them in for the Inconsistent Clinic. And while they’re in the waiting room they can talk with their mates from the Rebels and the Waratahs.
The Seth Efrikens? They’ve got some great individual players, but no team is standing out as a unit yet. And they’re still falling back on a kick and chase game when under pressure. The Sharks look the best, playing well in very wet conditions.
For what it’s worth, here’s the table after Week Two. But don’t read too much into it for another couple of weeks.