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NSW Waratahs

Wow!! What a game we have witnessed at Allianz Stadium where one team in the Reds got away with a really good start going into half-time 19-0. Then another team in the form of the underwhelming Waratahs began to pick up plenty of unanswered points where they were oh so close, having closed in at 24-24 all before successful two point conversion puts them in front at 26-24 for a short time. However, a late penalty goal from halfway by Tom Lynagh for the Reds fortunately gave their away fans a huge sigh of relief with the one point win in Moore Park by 26-27. Reds clearly booked in 5th where they will most likely take on the Chiefs once again in Hamilton next weekend while the Waratahs ended up last following a very difficult 2024 season.

Fraser McReight once again outstanding that puts the Reds on the map for a couple of winning occasions throughout the year on the openside 7. Not only he’s so dangerous smashing the opposition while backing up with the backline via his pace and superior passing but also brilliant to break down defensively too including the latter stages needed to stop the Waratahs from slipping away come full-time. There’s unfinished business ahead in the hope he can be the best 7 for both club and country going forward & next weekend’s last eight v the Chiefs away in Hamilton is the perfect time to do it & play semi-finals.

Josh Flook is another important Reds player who we should keep an eye on after an excellent display last night in the midfield outside 13. He’s the man that never stops running & also loves to score tries off the back of a great first half performance with one TRY to himself thanks to some excellent communication in the attacking third. Yes, we could’ve seen him score his 2nd when things didn’t go their way while seeing the Waratahs 2nd half comeback that almost came back to bite his team. But he was happy to accept the win & Josh needs his full support, so he can unleash his attacking abilities in the hope of going one better by beating the Chiefs again next weekend.

Finally, Jack Bowen has been exceptional when being given the keys to start in the Waratahs 10 position, particularly when he played a key role in his team’s resurgence after half-time of one TRY & three successful conversion kicks. Okay, he might have missed the very last penalty kick which was so unlucky. But Jack knows where to hack it when looking to expand into the wide areas on the counter attack with the numbers he’s got around him and voila! Let’s hope he will benefit from good competition that will make him a better player under a new coach going into next season. For now, he will look to help his 4th placed Easts side have a solid run in the Shute Shield show soon enough.

And shoutout with thanks to Darren Coleman on getting the Waratahs get back on track such as back to back 6th places including two Crusaders wins this year as if it’s 2014 again but sadly injuries hit him the most & we wish him good luck.

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The last four weeks of the 2024 Super Rugby season saw some great success with the New Zealand teams still going strong minus the Crusaders still unluckily, while the Australian sides have proven that they are up to the challenge that would make a huge difference to their upcoming Wallabies campaign later this year with three more regular rounds to go.

Then it’s all about Finals Footy once again to round off the season campaign after this from the quarter-final followed by the semi-finals and the Grand Final.

New Zealand teams

The Blues recently became unstoppable having just surpassed the Hurricanes on top of the ladder yesterday as they just got the Highlanders, Crusaders & Chiefs to go, which shouldn’t be too hard to go into the Finals with plenty of optimism for a fourth title. Hurricanes as said haven’t done too bad at times without Cameron Roigard but still had some tough times against Blues yesterday & the Brumbies two weeks ago in Canberra, let’s see if they can hold keep on winning where Moana Pasifika should be easy while Chiefs & Highlanders is a bit difficult.

Chiefs also had some easy wins in recent weeks against the bottom 3-4 teams & the race is on for the Waikato side to hopefully get the job done that might be a bit challenging starting with the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday followed by the Top 2 teams (Hurricanes & Blues). Meanwhile, Highlanders recovered well from their worst trip v Reds (31-0) in Round 9 by putting themselves back in the Top 8 at 7th with some good wins even though it wasn’t pretty. Yes, things are going to get difficult when facing the Top 2 sides other than Fijian Drua in Round 14 but sure they can cause a storm like it was before. 

And last but not least the Crusaders who got themselves another win in Christchurch two weeks ago v Rebels 38-0 with some great improvements to see at times. However, time is running against them as they really need to win big, which won’t be easy against Brumbies & then Blues other than easy finish v Moana Pasifika to hopefully make the Top 8 just in time after Round 15.

Australian teams 

ACT Brumbies are still high and flying bar the Blues loss back in Round 9 as they still sit 3rd with an easy run-in that would hopefully give themselves a good Finals run and then end the drought to take home the trophy. Queensland Reds on the other hand returned to winning ways other than also a close Round 10 loss v the Blues. Now the run-in might look a bit difficult when the Drua is so strong on the home front while they got a few being injured but then you got the Western Force at home followed by the Waratahs again shouldn’t be too hard to seal a good run-in v Chiefs or Brumbies in the Quarters.

Western Force also has a great strong home atmosphere off the back of wins against the Crusaders back in Round 9 & the Fijian Drua last night, which puts them back on track towards an outside possibility of playing Finals footy with the Waratahs next up followed by Reds away & then the Brumbies after that. Then don’t know what to say about the NSW Waratahs when they are at their lowest ebb once again with so many being injured other than two lucky wins v the Crusaders with more losses going against them. The only positive I can say that they’ve put in their best effort to hopefully get themselves up first at the finish line, but then they’re last right now with two difficult games to finish it off (Force & Reds) other than Moana Pasifika.

And the Melbourne Rebels are still hanging in 6th with three tough games to go with two being at home, such as the Chiefs on Friday followed by the Brumbies and then the Drua away in Fiji. It all depends on the other results but they will still make it even it means an extra week of playing considering the Crusaders are still struggling with the Waratahs going way worse. Then the big question mark is whether or not if the Rebels will be back next year & beyond who is still broke despite recent on-field success? We still don’t know when you got a businessman-led consortium group ready to save the club from liquidation but then the powers of Rugby Australia has the final say at Rugby HQ with still no resolution to either stay or go at this stage.

Pasifika teams 

Well, Moana Pasifika had their moments earlier during the season where they were flirting with the Top 8 bubble a few times here & there. However, a recent string of losses meaning they will unfortunately miss out as progress will take a bit more time before Moana can start winning more games from here; They got the 2nd-placed Hurricanes next up followed by the Waratahs & Crusaders, even though all of their final three regular season games are going to be played within New Zealand.

Same goes with the Fijian Drua who always have an outstanding home atmosphere in Lauktoka, Fiji like the Force bar the Hurricanes loss back in Round 9. They might be able to play another week of Finals this year depending on other results with the next two games being at home against the Reds & Rebels other than the Highlanders in Dunedin but their away form still much leaves to be desired which is gonna bite back to haunt them including the 48-10 loss v Force last night in Perth. That is going to be their next big step alongside a new head coach with Mick Byrne agreeing to step up with the national team soon.

Post-notes

2/3rd in with three regular weeks to go as the race for 6th-8th is still on where we could still see an odd upset or two on top of the continued Australian teams’ winning progress & the battle for 1st & 2nd between the Blues and Hurricanes, with the lone Australian side Brumbies and the Chiefs being the outside favourites as they’re all locked up with the QF hosting rights.

While the Reds will surely end up in 5th, The Rebels and Highlanders would most certainly be a given as the Waratahs are unable to improve anytime soon with more injury hit-lists in the treatment room. And who is going to claim 8th?

It’s going to be between the Drua, Force and Crusaders – with the Crusaders hopefully getting the last remaining Finals spot, even though things weren’t the best where lots of new guys have a huge job to fill after so many people including a few big-name players and even the head coach in Scott Robertson getting the All Blacks job have came and gone in the off-season.

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Round 10 of 15 in the 2024 Super Rugby Season during the Anzac weekend saw all 12 teams back in full swing after taking their respective byes over the last three weeks and fortunately, I was able to see it on-site tonight at Allianz Stadium (awesome modern venue btw) in Moore Park where the NSW Waratahs welcome last year’s runner-up team the Chiefs from Waikato, NZ.

The first half saw the Waratahs off to a flying start following the Chiefs early ill-disciplines that saw two of their players having to sit out on the naughty chair (yellow card) for a while. Despite this, the Chiefs were able to move on and level the scoreboard with the Waratahs going into half-time at 12-12. Then the Chiefs were able to extend their lead with another set of tries while the Waratahs began to fall behind. Yes, the Waratahs might have not lost all of hope just yet when a successful penalty conversion and a 3rd TRY might have spark a bit of an outside revival. However, as the clock ticks away towards full-time, the Chiefs proved too strong for them whilst having the last laugh with one more TRY to close it out for the win once again 22-38.

Emoni Narawa has been lightning quick on the Chiefs right wing, having been blessed with the support needed to get things done on the counter-attack that made him so great. He can make things so difficult with his trickery pace for the opposition defenders to try and stop him in his tracks where he punished them not once but twice that puts his side in cruise control.

Here’s another experienced young talent Kaylum Boshier on the Chiefs openside back row at 7 after he kept a good eye on the Waratahs at his own end, so he can turn the ball over, muscle it up & cash it in on return as the rewards have paid off. He’s a multi-talented player with a background in both rugby and cricket who’s got tremendous mobility that reflects his natural game-changing abilities and that is how Kaylum made the Waratahs suffer towards the end with a big win away from home.

Both of them may not had much International experience but they can certainly compete v the best of the rest and that includes the unbeaten Hurricanes in the hope they can translate success in all fronts of New Zealand Rugby. The road to go one better continues as they will be back at home (FMG Stadium in Waikato) next Saturday night v Perth’s Western Force.

And Julian Heaven has converted a couple of the line-in throws into tries for the Waratahs tonight including one for himself thanks to these winning penalties. He’s still young at 23 who might not have gone through the traditional route but his hard work handed his side a huge early headstart off the back of the Chiefs ill-discipline that saw two players sat 10 minutes at each time on the naughty chair. But what’s even naughty is the way his side failed to get the job done at times through open play despite having good possession as the Chiefs explosive counter attack really punished them in the end that handed them yet another loss. It doesn’t look any good from here with the Hurricanes next up & it’s even going to be a long trip to get to Wellington in NZ for next Friday on what is going to be a really tough run-in to finish off this term.

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Last night, Melbourne has witnessed their own Rugby team winning another game this time v Highlanders in the form of the Rebels and they now sit in 4th place on the ladder with a bye next week before they resume to go all in & hopefully have their first taste of Finals footy. Although they did play in the Qualifying Final back in 2020 v QLD Reds under a temporary Super Rugby AU comp when COVID interrupted our daily lives at the time & the Waratahs weren’t doing much good back then.

However, questions will still need to be answered by Rugby Australia amid the Rebels still being broke as whether or not if they have the resources including the talent pool to support as many as five teams? It’s been a long-running debate that saw two teams end up in the hole including the ACT Brumbies whose existence will not be taken away anytime soon thanks to their decorated history regularly up front that reflects long-running success. There’s another team that won’t be in for the axe at all is the NSW Waratahs whose history is also so strong in a Rugby dominated state/market that goes back to hundreds of years despite their mediocrity over the last couple of years; Same goes to the Queensland Reds – so rule both of them out too as removing those big influences & RA investing more into the Brumbies, Rebels & even Western Force won’t help that much.

While we’d like to go back to the way things were when the Wallabies were oh so good with just three teams in the 1990s and early 2000s, it won’t happen since the world has changed over time with most professional sports here having an excellent national footprint. At the end of the day, it’s still going to be five teams without needing to axe a team again under a few conditions – if the Rebels get cut, 1. I’d to see a like-for-like replacement with the Jaguares coming back this time as a Melbourne-based team by inheriting most of the Rebels players with a few Los Pumas Internationals coming over and 2. Western Force gets some help from Japan and merge with the Sunwolves while still playing most of the games in Perth.

That way, we will able to meet the goal of having all five Australian Super Rugby teams thriving against the long-dominating New Zealand counterparts. Plus, the talent pool will be stronger as ever which in turn will get more quality Australian Super Rugby players coming from all five teams for the benefit of the Wallabies returning to its former glory by winning games & silverware again while expanding overseas selection availability since the Springboks won back-to-back recent World Cups under this model including the next crop of local grassroots kids who will learn massively from the seasoned Internationals playing here.

And hopefully no more fighting after consistently losing to the All Blacks over the last 20 + Bledisloe Cup editions while experiencing the worst World Cup campaign ever where they exited the group stages for the first time last year in France as the worst thing can happen is for RA to face someone in the courtroom yet again like the Force back in 2017, The end.

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Round 8 is now done and we are at the halfway stage of the 2024 Super Rugby Season with one more shortened series of four games next weekend while some teams will undertake the required week-long off the field and all 12 teams will then look to bring it home non-stop towards the end of this regular home and away portion. For now, let’s look back what happened over the past month between Rounds 5 to 8 when we finished March while having an Easter long weekend before entering April and the clocks have moved back an hour with all cold game nights ahead after Daylight Savings was over one week ago.

New Zealand teams

Hurricanes still strong albeit Cam Roigard’s knee injury that will keep him out of the field for six months as let’s see if that unbeaten run continues with games coming up v Fijian Drua as well as two Aussie teams like Brumbies & Waratahs. What else? Blues also on the same wavelength as the Hurricanes where they got the Brumbies next up followed by the Reds and Rebels, so won’t be easy when facing Aussie opposition but they should be alright though with 1-2 wins mainly v Reds and Rebels. Chiefs also not bad despite some losses lately v Crusaders in Christchurch a few weeks ago as well as the unbeatable Hurricanes just now & they have a good next series of matches which we will expect to see them again at Finals time. Then Highlanders have shown that they can always stay in the game but four losses over the last month isn’t a good look whose progress is still in the rebuilding phase which will take a bit more time. And on the Crusaders, great to see them win at last two weeks ago v Chiefs. Although they were unlucky v Waratahs again the other day thanks to Will Harrison’s last-minute drop goal, but they are on the right track though lately as they still need to win the rest if the Saders want to play Finals this year.

Australian teams

ACT Brumbies are still unstoppable who currently sits 2nd with games coming up v the Top 2 such as Blues next Saturday and the Hurricanes after that. Can they be the top ranked side in this comp other than being just the best here that saw them accomplish regular semi-finals over the last couple of years? We’ll see. Melbourne Rebels, on the other hand, got away with really good wins off the back of the Waratahs as that team so far can only win v the new-look Crusaders, as well as Fijian Drua who still struggle away from home and of course, the Highlanders by a comfortable margin. They now sit 4th amid financial problems at the start of this year as nothing is still guaranteed whether if they will be back playing next season & beyond.

Plus, the Queensland Reds good start under Les Kiss has turned sour in recent weeks after three straight losses to the Western Force, ACT Brumbies and now Moana Pasifika. The good news is they are still within the Top 8 bubble in 6th but bad news is they need to win games again if Queensland wish to do well in the Finals and not let it slip out with fear like last year when Brad Thorn had his course as head coach. Meanwhile, the NSW Waratahs are still struggling other than winning games v the Crusaders and they too have a series of tough matches ahead after next week’s bye like Chiefs, Hurricanes and also the Brumbies again. And while the Western Force was fortunate to celebrate the rare home win v Reds, they still haven’t been at their best despite having lots of experienced players. Looking ahead, the run-in fixtures doesn’t look any good to them as an outside finals berth looks less likely but surely they will get some wins at home though like Crusaders, Drua and Waratahs.

Pasifika teams

We all know that the Drua like the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels can have a strong home crowd impact which reflects their impressive winning record there but not so much away from home. They got the Hurricanes and Moana Pasifika coming up at home soon to close out April, so this could mean business for them to get back on track to stay inside the Top 8 bubble and hopefully play Finals again like they did during their sophomore campaign last year. And what about Moana Pasifika? They made some excellent progress at last as seen in the early rounds of 2024, although they had some heavy losses recently until Moana beat the Reds the other day but that was against the top teams. They will need at least 3-4 wins now in order to enjoy their first finals experience as long as the ladder doesn’t change that much over the next 4-6 weeks, but again Moana is making some gradual progress on their third year before they can be more like Drua and win more games in the long run.

Post-Notes

All in all, the New Zealand teams are still dominating Super Rugby as the Crusaders downfall should only last this season while Australia has made some great progress too – including a couple of upset wins against some of the established or original foundation teams should I say – with the Brumbies and Rebels being their best so far in 2024. Nothing much will change as wouldn’t mind a couple of more upsets and other team wins that isn’t a New Zealand team or from somewhere in the bottom four, but the only exception we might see is for the Crusaders to win all the remaining games as they can & make the Finals just inside the Top 8 by the time we wrap up Round 12 before all 12 teams will then become eight teams after Round 15.

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Week 7 of the 2024 Super Rugby Season wrapped up with the ACT-NSW rivalry between the Brumbies and Waratahs at GIO Stadium in Canberra where it was a quiet and defensive focused first-half with the Brumbies holding a 10-point lead after a series of penalty goals by the two teams but No.9 Harrison Goddard has got Canberrans on the board right at half-time with his first TRY of the night, 16-6. Then the Brumbies went on to build on their good first-half with an excellent 2nd-half performance of a few tries on the board that sums up their 5th straight win of 2024 while the Waratahs might have secured the one and only TRY but struggled mightily despite their good defensive structure earlier on as the full-time score was 40-16.

It’s a hard pick with so many Brumbies players performing at their best tonight v Waratahs but how good was Corey Toole who was so electrifying that made the most of his team’s unbelievable 2nd half counter-attacking performance on the left wing at No.11. It’s not just his explosive finishing and slick passes that puts Toole on the front foot but he can also cover everything in between including defense as he deseves the step up into Wallabies level soon enough. Then shoutout to James Slipper who plays on the front row at loosehead for the Brumbies after he just became the most capped Australian Super Rugby player of 178 caps & he too had a great game to keep a great eye of the Waratahs earlier on while giving his team winning penalties and big scores to help the Brumbies stay ahead. He’s so important on and off the field with a plethora of experience alongside a high standard of physical and mental toughness required both at Super Rugby and Wallabies level as credit to him on turning the Brumbies into a regular finals contender since he came over from the Reds back in 2019. Now look out Blues and Hurricanes, they are gunning for the top spot now & hopefully the Super Rugby trophy later in June. But first, they got the week-long off for next week before the Brumbies head to Auckland v Blues on a Saturday night for Week 9.

And Charlie Gamble did the best he can to hold the Waratahs glue together on the openside back row at No.7 with excellent defensive contribution to turn the game over including some attacking intent which reaped rewards along the way, especially when going up against an outstanding Brumbies team who controlled really well with possession. It’s just a shame that his team’s attack wasn’t on par with the Brumbies backline in the 2nd half when it comes to the lead, having built some defensive stability throughout the opening 40. Once again, the Waratahs still haven’t won in a while that goes back to Round 2 last month v Crusaders whom they will be facing up next this time at home (Allianz Stadium in Moore Park) on Friday night.

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What you need to know so far after one month or Week 4 of 15 in the 2024 Super Rugby Season?  Let’s begin with the New Zealand teams who still enjoy plenty of success except one team at the moment despite a huge off-season overhaul. The Hurricanes have been outstanding with no losses so far on top, Chiefs still enjoying success after topping the table & then fell short at the Grand Final bar the Reds loss last weekend, the Blues aren’t that bad without Beauden Barrett only for this year, Highlanders making some encouraging progress after they missed out the Finals last year & the defending champs Crusaders are a completely different team now with four straight losses & as well as a lengthy injury list.

Meanwhile in Australia, things aren’t that bad over here as there’s plenty more to prove after a disastrous year in this sport including an early exit from the World Cup. The Reds new era under coach Les Kiss has been so far, so good other than the last minute Super Round loss v Hurricanes, as well as regular semi-finalists Brumbies still going strong. Plus, the Waratahs may have taken the odd win v the new-look Crusaders also at the Super Round but have unluckily lost lately both on home turf. Western Force still hasn’t won yet despite injecting more Super Rugby experience & although the Rebels has won some games, but only against Force & Moana on what might be their last season since they’re broke.

And Moana Pasifika has made the step up  with some success after a slow first two years, while the Fijian Drua might have also won v Crusaders on home soil in Fiji last weekend but still have unfinished business to prove if they wish to play in the Finals once again in June this year.

Looking at the next four weeks, things won’t change much unless the Crusaders finally climb back up from the bottom that will shake up the ladder a bit. I would be a bit surprised though if we will manage to see just a few shock upsets here & there.

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It was a scrappy & close match-up to watch tonight at Allianz Stadium in Moore Park with the Waratahs having the first points off the penalty goal conversion after a scoreless first half hour but it was the Blues who led the way with the one and only TRY not long ahead of half-time 3-7. Then nothing much changed at all where the Blues added another TRY and despite seeing the Waratahs dominate possession in the last 10-15 mins thanks to a late TRY, it still wasn’t enough to upsurp the Blues with less than 60 seconds left on the clock with the final scoreline, 10-12. Waratahs will now fly to Suva, Fiji ahead of their next game v the Fijian Drua next Saturday while the Blues will travel to Christchurch v the Crusaders later on the same day.

Caleb Clarke has been a very important player tonight on the Blues left wing where he never stopped running back and forth as being tested defensively while he worked his magic with the ball on hand such as making a few quick kicks as well as displaying excellent physicality every time he smashes through the Waratahs defense. It goes to show how valuable he is to the side in order to keep the Blues winning trajectory with the eye of lifting the championship having fired off really well so far this season apart from their defeat last week to the Hurricanes, although there’s still a long way to go especially when going up against a completely new Crusaders team next Saturday night who so far hasn’t won any games yet. Meanwhile, Ofa Tuʻungafasi had a great first half performance where he kept the Waratahs quiet while helping his side get off the mark on the front row at loosehead. He too is also incredibly physically strong in all areas such at scrum time, line-out time, attack when adding pressure to the opposition and also in defense to try & turn things over his way for his Blues team. Yes, things might not be the same later on when he had to come off the bench when the Waratahs dominated the last 10-15 mins alone but his contribution has been key to the Blues staying ahead above the Waratahs tonight. And how about a special shoutout to Jay  Fonokalafi who scored a late TRY on his Super Rugby debut with 1-2 mins left off the Waratahs bench as the reserve hooker thanks to a winning penalty line-out. He is someone who plays for the Western Sydney Two Blues in Shute Shield and also has a day job in concreting which is an unreal story for him to get his chance to showcase himself at the highest level and sure there’s more to come from the 27-year-old. But for now, the team just couldn’t make the most of their attack for the majority with a mix of ill-discipline despite a late fightback where it’s been too little, too late to get over the line under pressure.

No.7 and No.8, Perese with Reilly Waratahs Jay reserve hooker

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So there we have it, the NSW Waratahs have just defeated the reigning champions and the winningest team in the competition Crusaders after a 13-point win at AAMI Park in Melbourne, 24-37. At the start, the Crusaders got away with the opening points but it was the Waratahs who dominated the majority of the opening half where they came back into the dressing room full of optimism at the break, 10-23. In the end, nothing much has changed despite some improved Crusaders performance later on off the back of a few new faces from the bench before it was too little, too late to close in under pressure. This is the Waratahs’s night tonight where they continued to pick up the opposing team’s misfiring attacking play including the ill-discipline that turned into more big points before the win was there comfortably against a championship-winning team who is right now on the rebuilding phase. It’s a much-needed win for the NSW side as there’s still plenty left to prove going into Round 3 with the Highlanders at home (Allianz Stadium) next up in Moore Park on Friday & for the Crusaders, they have still yet to win after two rounds now as they will fly again this time to Fiji next Saturday v the Fijian Drua.

Here comes the Waratahs all-rounder in cricket terms who plays in the half-back position in Jake Gordon at No.9 following his outstanding performance tonight v the reigning champs Crusaders. He’s in tremendous shape in his prime right now along with tremendous Super Rugby experience on offer to make the most out of the Waratahs attack, having interrupted the Crusaders passage of play a few times throughout tonight before he quickly cashed it in for the sake of the team with great rewards including a TRY for himself. Forming a great partnership next up within the Waratahs at No.10 is Tane Edmed where he was a huge influence both as the leading conversion kicker and a creative attacking player through the middle. He just doesn’t hesitate every time he has the ball with the licence to thrill and play around to get past the oppositon gate such as processing that cross kick including the quick passes before he finds his man to finish it off for him while adding the extra points & he can also be a handy contributor in defense under pressure and that was key to getting the best out of his on-field game. Before we go to the Crusaders at the other end, shoutout to head coach Darren Coleman who has brought the Waratahs back into life from the day he walked into Daceyville at the start of 2022. Yes, he is a man who is under pressure right now but again, he knows the NSW Rugby system more than anyone & losing him this early won’t go down well as this team is under a off-field renovation too. And Sevu Reece has worked so hard more than anyone for the Crusaders down on the wide right. He never stops running back and forth when covering up both in attack and defense, especially when he came back after a long lay-off from his knee injury last year where his contribution has been missed. But despite a great start, some of his new players simply needs time at this top level since a few key players have moved on during the off-season thanks to a plenty of ill-discipline as well as the passage of open play being so isolated that reflected the team’s loss tonight v Waratahs.

CRUvWAR #SuperRugby #Crusaders #NSWWaratahs #JakeGordon #TaneEdmed #SevuReece #Rugby #RugbyUnion #DarrenColeman

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Great to have Super Rugby back for another year in 2024, especially on a Saturday night that began with the long-running Queensland Reds v NSW Waratahs rivalry as this week’s game of the round at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. It was a close first half where the Waratahs showed some intent in the way they spotted a few Reds mistakes before they cashed in with the rewards on hand, while the home side benefitted from winning penalties every time when they have the ball in hand going forward & they are the ones who has the upper hand at the break, 21-15. But the 2nd half is all about the Reds where they continued to keep on scoring before being too good in the end as the new era under head coach Les Kiss is off to a great start with a comfortable victory on home soil, 40-22. Next weekend’s games will be under the one roof during the Super Round at AAMI Park in Melbourne with Crusaders v Waratahs on next Saturday night & Hurricanes v Reds next Sunday afternoon. Time will tell if the Australian teams really mean business this season since the NZ teams have entered into a completely new chapter with lots of musical chairs amongst coaches and even players over the course of the off-season.

Tate McDermott has been a revelation in the Reds attack at No.9 (half-back) whose performance tonight has played a key role in his team’s huge win v the Waratahs. He’s great communicating with his players while unleashing the pace and physicality every time the Reds has the ball on hand. All of this is so important in getting the job done when making the most of the counter-attack as this is how Les Kiss wanted the Reds to play and gotta say it’s so far, so good with McDermott vowing to keep that rebuilding phase onto the next step in the weeks to come. There’s another Reds player who will be there to bring back the glory is experienced Alex Hodgman on the front row at loosehead. He too benefitted from winning penalties where he has the tall reach & packed meat combined to plow himself past the Waratahs players with scrums and tries being won under his watch. There’s life after Taniela Tupou in the props when you got someone onboard who has previous Super Rugby experience in New Zealand and he could even play for the Wallabies too soon enough thanks to his Australian-born father.

And Mark Nawaqanitawase had a really long evening on the wide right for the Waratahs where he has outstanding vision as being tested in defense while he can get his side out of trouble every time the opportunity is there whenever the ball is right near or with him. There’s a reason why he’s more than a Super Rugby player in the Wallabies shirt as Mark will be missed when he will play for the Sydney Roosters in 2025 & 2026. Even though he did his best to try and stop the Reds from scoring, his side unfortunately wasn’t happy with the discipline/lost penalties before more mistakes went against them at his own end later on & this is something the Waratahs will need to watch out if they wish to get themselves back on track this season.

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