After nine rounds of action, Super Rugby Pacific headed to Melbourne’s AAMI Park, which hosted all five of Round 10’s matches and saw the first of the 2022 Trans-Tasman fixtures take place between Australian and New Zealand teams.
The Brumbies were the only Aussie outfit to record a win on home soil, defeating the Highlanders 28-17 on Sunday, putting more doubts over whether the Highlanders have a chance of making the top eight this season.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders put forward a 42-17 thrashing over the Melbourne Rebels, while the Reds dropped to fourth in the league after they suffered a crushing 13 point defeat to the Hurricanes.
Despite posting a spirited comeback, a 14-man Waratahs side were ultimately put to the sword by the Chiefs, who ran 51 points past the New South Wales outfit, while the Blues posted a resolute 35-18 win over Fijian Drua, which will keep them at the top of the Super Rugby Pacific table.
From red cards to comebacks, here are our main talking points from Round 10.
Peaking too early
Considering the dominance of New Zealand teams in this tournament over the past few years, it comes as no surprise that the Kiwis would come away with nearly a clean sweep of wins from their first trip across the Tasman, winning four out of five matches.
One of the biggest victories of the weekend was the Hurricane’s comeback against the Reds, which saw the Wellington side come from behind in the first half to defeat the Queensland outfit while keeping their opponent’s score to nil in the second half.
The Reds certainly peaked too early and Jordie Barrett punished them after half time kicking three penalties while prop forward Tyrel Lomax was sublime with the ball in hand, running in two tries for the ‘Canes.
Underwhelming Super Round
While there was a lot of hype before this weekend’s Super Round, there were some who were let down by the spectacle that was delivered, with all five matches attracting a reported total attendance of only 30,000 spectators.
Former All Blacks legend Jeff Wilson expressed his concerns on The Breakdown podcast, claiming that he had gone “into this weekend excited and looking forward to the contest” but was underwhelmed at both the lack of fans and atmosphere in the stadium.
Neither was he impressed by the standard of officiating or the quality of rugby on offer, saying: “I thought there was a lot of penalties, I thought there was a lot of scrums. Once again, we had ill-discipline. I’m hoping it’s going to improve between all of these sides going forward.”
Waratah’s ill-discipline proves costly
One of the biggest talking points from Round 10 was the red card shown to ‘Tah’s loosehead Angus Bell for a tip tackle that occurred just two minutes into their defeat against the Chiefs.
Referee Nick Berry awarded a straight red to Bell after reviewing footage from the TMO, which showed the prop lifting Chief’s captain Sam Cain beyond the horizontal and dropping the flanker on his head.
Bell was sent his marching orders, but the Australian outfit found themselves in even more trouble just 10 minutes later, with Jamie Roberts being sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.
Two tries from skipper Jake Gordon and a try from Alex Newsome saw the NSW side put forward a spirited comeback, but their early ill-discipline ultimately cost them the match.