As the season draws to a close, there’s still plenty to play for in SuperRugby Pacific, with the Highlanders still not safe at the bottom of the top eight despite a convincing win over the Reds in Round 12.
Melbourne and the Western Force pose big threats to the Highlanders’ post-season campaign, with the Australian sides trailing the Kiwi outfit by two and three points respectively.
While we will have to wait to see who picks up the final quarter-final spot, all eyes turned to the top of the table last weekend, as the Chiefs hosted the Brumbies in a thrilling clash that saw the Aussies outlast their hosts by 10 points.
Elsewhere, following their impressive performance on home soil against the Highlanders, Fijian Drua succumbed to a landslide 67-5 defeat to the Hurricanes on Sunday.
And in Auckland, Moana Pasifika were unlucky not to get a win against the Warratahs, who scored two tries in the final 20 minutes of the game to give them a close 26-20 win over Aaron Maugers’ side.
Here are our three talking points from SuperRugby Pacific Round 12…
The Blues showed once again why they are currently the best team in the competition and while the Brumbies trail them by two points, it’ll be a tough ask to overturn the Kiwi side.
But things didn’t go all their way on Friday night in their 71 point victory over the Rebels after they went 14 points down inside the opening six minutes of the match.
Pone Fa’amausili bundled over for the Rebels’ first score and Josh Canham took advantage of an intercept pass, dotting down for their second shortly after.
But the Blues hit back immediately with Akira Ioane grabbing a duo of tries before his team went on to astonishingly cross the white wash another nine times during the match.
What is even more frightening is that they did it all without All Black Beauden Barrett in the middle… Scary stuff…
‘Benchmark’ Brumbies aiming for the top
While the Blues are the team everyone’s talking about, the Brumbies are proving to be a viable challenger for the top spot.
They’ll go up against the Crusaders next weekend in what’s set to be one of the most entertaining matches of the season so far, but their 10-point win over the Chiefs in Round 12 proved that the Canberra outfit are certainly not to be messed with.
Even All Blacks captain Sam Cane hailed the Australian side as “the benchmarks”, after both teams exchanged tries in the first half, before the Brumbies ran in two more scores after the break to secure the win.
Highlanders in the mix
The Highlanders will need to continue to pick up points from their remaining three matches in order to qualify for finals with the Rebels and the Western Force hot on their tails heading towards the end of the season.
A win at the weekend would have seen either of them leapfrog the Highlanders, but it was the Otago side who showed they’re starting to kick into gear when it matters, defeating the Reds 27-19.
The Rebels and the Force still have a lot to do with both suffering big defeats this weekend, with the Western Australian side set to take on the Highlanders next week in what could be an 8-point match.