Resurgent Australian sides bounced back from the disappointment of last weekend’s Super Round, with the Waratahs and the Brumbies claiming big wins against the Crusaders and the Hurricanes.
The Waratahs ran in 17 early points against the Crusaders, keeping the New Zealand outfit scoreless in the first half, while a ruthless Brumbies side put the Canes to the sword, defeating Jason Holland’s team 42-25.
But it was a disappointing weekend for the Reds, who fell short to the Chiefs by just two points, despite pushing them right to the end, with Hunter Paisami cruising over on the 77-minute mark just after Cheif’s back-row Samipeni Finau was red-carded for a dangerous tackle.
Meanwhile, the Highlanders hung on for a three-point win against Fijian Drua, who kept the Otago side scoreless in the second term despite conceding three tries in the first half.
And the Western Force could have beaten the Super Rugby Aeoteroa champions after they also kept the Blues scoreless in the second half but missed three conversion kicks that could have seen them come away with four points.
Here are our three main talking points from Super Rugby Round 11.
While Fijian Drua have been forced to play all of their home games this season in Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions, Saturday afternoon saw them welcome the Highlanders to the Fijian capital Suva in a historic occasion.
This game marked the first time a Fijian rugby team has played a match in Fiji, and in front of a crowd of 15,000 spectators at the national stadium in Suva, the Drua shocked the Highlanders, with scrumhalf Frank Lomani scoring after just three minutes.
The home side ran in another two tries during the match, but the Kiwis showed their experience and kept the Drua scoreless in the second half, with a late try from Rhys Marshall putting the Highlanders back ahead by three points to secure the win.
Waratahs break the drought
The Waratahs also made history on Saturday, ending a three-year wait for a win over a New Zealand side while producing the upset of the season after they beat the 2019 Super Rugby champions Crusaders in an epic 24-21 win.
It’s only the fourth time the New South Wales side have beaten the New Zealand outfit in 20 matches, and it was a huge turnaround from their 51-27 previous loss to the Chiefs in Round 10.
The Tahs got off to an electric start, keeping the Crusaders to nil in the first half, running in two tries and one conversion to go 17-0 up.
The Crusaders bounced back to score 21 points in the second half, but their discipline cost them, conceding a red and a yellow card in the final 15 minutes.
Hamish Dalzell was sent off for a high hit on Wallabies captain Michael Hooper just before the referee awarded a penalty try to the Tahs after Pablo Matera was penalised for collapsing a maul.
After poor performances in last week’s Super Round, Australian sides certainly made a revival this weekend, with the Brumbies, Rebels and the Waratahs all recording big wins in Round 11, while the Western Force and the Reds came close against two tough Kiwi outfits.
Yet this weekend’s results eclipse last year’s super rugby Trans-Tasman games, where Aussie sides managed only three wins from 26 games.
Australian sides are certainly on the up this season, with the Brumbies now only one point from the Blues, who currently top the table on 40 points.