Easily the best performed New Zealand team through the first 5 weeks of SupeRugby with the opening salvo against the Blues on Friday night virtually undefendable. What’s different here is that the Canes aren’t satisfied yet with a rather grumpy Chris Boyd lamenting the teams inability to put the Blues away earlier when he fronted the media post-game. Unsung hero really is defence coach Clark Laidlaw with the Canes tackle accuracy the best in the comp. Milner-Skudder had a dream debut and we await the other Superstar-in-the-making Otere Blacks debut in the upcoming weeks as well.
A good overnight win in the republic showing all great sides do best after a loss but it’s that loss that sends them off the top of our power rankings where last week’s loss to the Highlanders at home counting as one of the worst chokes in recent Super Rugby where a dominant scrum (2 penalty tries) and glut of territory and possession was blown in a last minute loss on the back of some horrific Aaron Cruden goal kicking.
3/3 Highlanders & Crusaders
Can’t separate them.
Both teams enjoyed good wins overnight, however it was the Highlanders who attracted more attention with a gutsy win over last year’s champs the Waratahs. There looks to be more depth about the Landers this year with Loose Forward Elliot Dixon outstanding. Still some concern around the set pieces especially when winter really sets in shortly for their road games that are away from the Forsyth-Barr roof that protects them (the scrum folded badly in Hamilton last week and Hooker Liam Coltman reminds us of a young Dane Coles when it comes to his sometimes shabby Lineout work).
As for the Saders it was back to business last night with a satisfactory win over the Lions with all its superstars getting their first real hit-out. The sight of Namani Nadolo will have set hearts racing down Christchurch way as well as they don’t offer too much else in the way of game breaking ability out wide.
You have to feel sorry for Sir JK at present as his team simply can’t buy a trick and the loss of Skipper Jerome Kaino robbed it of its talisman on Friday night. A series of upcoming road games coming up doesn’t make things any easier either. The New Zealand Conference is so strong it’s hard to see this team moving off the foot of the table any time soon but the wins must surely come (or will they) ?