In a week where four of the New Zealand teams had games at home, it took the Crusaders to stop an unwanted whitewash in round 9 of the Super 14. The Chiefs started proceedings by giving the Bulls a 5-point victory in Hamilton on Friday, losing 19 – 33.
Saturday should have been a festival of New Zealand victories, with all three home teams being odds-on favourites. Only the Blues were playing someone ahead of them on the table, and they were fresh off beating competition leaders the Bulls the week before.
The first game of the Saturday was the Highlanders hosting the Force in Queenstown. The dramatic backdrop of The Remarkables must surely make for the most picturesque playing venue of any televised sport. It wasn’t enough inspiration for the Highlanders though, who after swapping leads with the Force throughout the match, eventually lost 27 – 41. Former All Black David Hill, temporarily helping his former coach John Mitchell at the Force, showed his experience and composure throughout the match.
The Blues were unable to carry their promising form from the week before into their match against the Stormers who overwhelmed the Blues to an early 19-0 lead. The Blues forgot how hard they worked to against the Bulls the week before and seemed to think the win against the Stormers would be easy. The final score was the Stormers 33, the Blues 21. One of the highlights of the match included a huge fend by Isaia Toeava to bust the line, before linking with Joe Rokocoko twice before Rokocoko scored for the Blues.
Three games in, it was up to the Crusaders to stop the whitewash on NZ soil by beating the table topping Waratahs in Christchurch. Despite being a bit off with the boot at the moment, Dan Carter did enough to overtake Stirling Mortlock and become the leading point scorer in Super Rugby history. With 5 penalties on the night, Carter ended with 1022 Super Rugby Points. A late miss gave the Waratahs a bonus point. The style of the win would have not just Crusaders fans worried, but as New Zealand’s only realistic chance, all New Zealand fans worried. The final score was 20 to 13 with the Crusaders’ Kahn Fotuali’i and the Waratahs’ Rob Horne scoring tries.
In other Super 14 results, Australian teams thrashed their respective South African opponents. A cricket score looked to be on the cards early on in the Reds v Lions match, before finishing 41 – 26 to the Reds at Coca Cola Park in Johannesburg. As expected, the Brumbies had a field day against the Cheetahs at Canberra Stadium in Canberra, winning 61 to 15.