New Zealand 40 Australia 0
By Roger Childs
This is not a headline you’ll see in The Sydney Morning Herald or The Melbourne Age. However it is reality: forty wins in a row by Kiwi Super Rugby teams over the Aussies.
A former Wallaby Stephen Hoiles puts it down to cheating, and Reds captain, Scott Higginbotham, says that our players know where you can cut corners, where you can push the boundaries.
Seemingly our cross-Tasman opponents don’t know these things!
Let’s face it you can’t tamper with a rugby ball.
A couple of close ones
Last week it looked as if the Aussies would break their duck when the Waratahs raced out to 29-0 in the first 30 minutes against the 2017 champions in Christchurch. But, not surprisingly, the Crusaders came back with 31 unanswered points and the chance of a rare win over a Kiwi team evaporated.
Last night at Westpac Stadium, the Hurricanes were expected to have a comfortable win over the Queensland Reds. The latter had been slaughtered in Tokyo last weekend by the lowly Sunwolves: 63-28!
However, the home team was guilty of a lot of sloppy play, missed tackles and knock ons. The visitors scored four very good tries and were obviously determined not to be humiliated two weeks in a row. It was a game that could have gone either way, but in the end the Hurricanes ground out a narrow 38-34 victory.
A mixed performance
The home side scored five tries and two of these were to Ben Lam who has now equalled the record number of touch downs in a Super Rugby season. He could have had a third but dropped the ball in attempting to score with one hand; it was one of a number of unforced errors that marred the Hurricanes effort.
Nevertheless, there was plenty of slick inter-passing, solid scrummaging and strong running in the home town victory, but all would agree it was far short of a quality performance.
There was an incident half way through the second half which could have given the Reds a rare victory. Hurricanes second five, Peter Umaga Jensen, tried to intercept a pass in a promising Reds breakaway down the right flank. It looked suspiciously like a deliberate knock down. Ten minute in the bin was a strong possibly, but the Reds player involved tackled Umaga Jensen as he tried to re-catch the ball.
The referee consulted the TMO and they agreed that the Hurricanes player might have caught it, but for the interference, and a scrum was the outcome for the knock on.
An Aussie comeback?
It is only half way through the rugby season and the Australians have time to improve their record.
The top team in their franchise will be in the finals of the Super Rugby as of right, but no other Aussie team will make it.
Meanwhile New Zealand will have either three or four in the finals grouping.
The Wallaby team to meet the All Blacks for the Bledisloe Cup later in the year will have plenty of talented players and they will remember that Australia won the final match between the two teams in last year’s series.