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DHL Super Rugby Pacific Wrap: Round 3

DHL Super Rugby Pacific Wrap: Round 3

All BlacksMarch 11, 2024

Three rounds into DHL Super Rugby Pacific for 2024, the upsets came thick and fast over the weekend, leaving the Hurricanes the only unbeaten side and the top eight split 50:50 between Australia and New Zealand sides.

During the round, former All Blacks and Hurricanes wing Julian Savea scored his 61st try, playing for Moana Pasifika to head former Wallaby Israel Folau on the all-time try-scoring list.

In beating the Chiefs, the Reds made it consecutive wins at Suncorp Stadium, their first since 2022, while the Fijian Drua made it seven wins out of their last eight games at home, sending the Crusaders to their third consecutive loss – their worst start since the first year of the competition in 1996.

Statistics Watch:

Most tries: Hoskins Sotutu (Blues) 5, Corey Toole (Brumbies) 4, Sevu Reece (Crusaders) 4, Matt Faessler (Reds) 4

Most carries: Mark Tele'a (Blues) 48, Peter Lakai (Hurricanes) 43, Harry Wilson (Reds) 36

Most clean breaks: Epeli Momo (Drua), Josh Moorby (Hurricanes) 6, Selestino Ravutaumada (Drua) 6, Viliame Fine (Moana Pasifika) 6

Defenders beaten: Cam Roigard (Hurricanes) 19, Ravutaumada 18, Tele'a 17

Lineouts won: Nick Frost (Brumbies) 20, Josh Canham (Rebels) 18, Liam Wright (Reds) 17

Metres gained: Harry Potter (Force) 304, Andrew Kellaway (Rebels) 285, Ravutaumada 260

Most offloads: Tele'a 7, Billy Proctor (Hurricanes) 6, Frost 6

Most points: Damian McKenzie (Chiefs) 40, Tane Edmed (Waratahs) 35, William Havili (Moana Pasifika) 35

Most tackles: Charlie Gamble (Waratahs) 51, Lakai 50, Fraser McReight (Reds) 48

Moana Pasifika 23 Rebels 29

Moving the ball wide, after impressive lead-up work by the pack at a lineout, gave wing Andrew Kellaway a chance to put his footwork to use to step his way through to score a 5th-minute try for the Rebels. Five minutes later, the lineout was the base for their second when the driving maul, and thrust from hooker Jordan Uelese, provided space down the blindside that halfback Ryan Louwrens put to use to score. More forward power from a five-metre scrum allowed No.8 Vaiolini Ekuasi to make a bullocking run to power his way through the defence to score by the posts. Relief for Moana Pasifika came in the 35th minute. A controlled lineout drive saw the ball released with second five-eighths Julian Savea powering his way to just short of the line, and when the ball emerged, it went to the blindside for lock Allan Craig to score.

Eight minutes into the second half, Savea was on the wing, perfectly placed to take a pass from wing Pepesana Patafilo to score in the corner – his 61st and record-breaking try in Super Rugby. After the first five-eighths, William Havili landed a penalty goal to give them a 20-19 lead, Moana Pasifika was reduced to 14 when a yellow card saw Craig sent to the bin, and Gordon landed a penalty goal to reclaim the lead. The Rebels reverted to their pack to build on that, with wing Lachie Anderson scoring after a pushover scrum attempt. Head contact in a tackle by blindside flanker Jacob Norris reduced the home team to 13. While they got Craig back, the Rebels had the numbers to seal the game with four minutes to play when replacement back Glenn Vaihu scored in the corner. Havili's last penalty goal on time secured at least a bonus point for Moana Pasifika.

Moana Pasifika 23 (Allan Craig, Julian Savea tries; William Havili 2 con, 3 pen) Rebels 29 ( Andrew Kelleway, Ryan Louwrens, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Lachie Anderson, Glenn Vaihu tries; Carter Gordon 2 con). HT: 10-19

Waratahs 21 Highlanders 23

Running onto the ball at pace from the outset, the Highlanders made use of speed to the breakdown when, in the fifth minute, fullback Jacob Ratumataivuki-Kneepkens found space in the midfield, drew the tackle and off-loaded to first five-eighths Rhys Patchell who ran 20m to score the first try. Staying in touch through two penalty goals by first five-eighths Tane Edmed, the Waratahs claimed the lead when centre Izaia Perese broke the line and then back-handed a pass to flying wing Mark Nawaqanitawase. He centre-kicked, and Perese secured the ball and rolled over the line to score.

It might not have been the tidiest preamble to a try, but in the 65th minute, consistent pressure and a willingness to keep moving the ball saw centre Tanielu Tele'a take a high pass, push off two defenders and cross to score. Thirteen minutes from the end, Waratahs wing Triston Reilly broke the line and passed outside to fullback Max Jorgensen to get within two points. Into extra time, Edmed had a chance to steal the game with a 40-metre penalty goal attempt, but his kick was just wide.

Waratahs 21 (Izaia Perese, Max Jorgensen tries; Tane Edmed con, 3 pen) Highlanders 23 (Rhys Patchell Tanielu Tele'a tries; Sam Gilbert 2 con, 3 pen). HT: 16-13

Fijian Drua 20 Crusaders 10

Both teams were looking for their first win, and it was the Crusaders who scored first when wing Sevu Reece ran from the blindside wing to take an inside pass from a planned lineout move to split the defence and race in for a classy try, 18 minutes into the game. The Fijian Drua were determined, and the forward clash was demanding, with the Crusaders feeling the brunt. Seven minutes from halftime, the Drua were rewarded when wing Selestino Ravutaumada got a long pass from a ruck on the blindside to step Chay Fihaki and then cut inside to score.

Four minutes into the second half, impressive lead-up work, with halfback Frank Lomani prominent, saw nine phases of play test the Crusaders' defence before Lomani scrambled around a ruck on the line to score. The Crusaders had their chances around the three-quarter mark, with flanker Dom Gardiner almost securing an intercept at a lineout on the Drua line, but he couldn't quite hold the ball. Three minutes from the end, first five-eighths Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula put the issue beyond down by landing his second penalty goal.

Fijian Drua 20 (Selestino Ravutaumada, Frank Lomani tries; Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula 2 con, 2 pen) Crusaders 10 (Sevu Reece try; Taha Kemara con, pen). HT: 10-10

Brumbies 22 Force 19

Relishing the afternoon start, the Force made an emphatic start when a long lineout throw in the eighth minute was taken by first five-eighths Ben Donaldson. His speed carried him through the scrambled Brumbies defence, and when caught just short of the line, he had second five-eighths Hamish Stewart on hand in support to score. They followed that 10 minutes later with a lineout drive that saw hooker Michael Wells score. The Force ran the Brumbies all over the field, but in the 30th minute, their counter-attacking saw the ball moved from their line and halfback Ryan Lonergan was rewarded for ball support to run 40m to score. Force wing Harry Potter had a try denied due to obstruction earlier in the move.

Potter was sin-binned for fouling Brumbies' lock Darcy Swain in the air, and the home team used that to work the numbers in defence and give No8 Rob Valetini a try. A tap penalty gave the Brumbies their winning advantage when replacement hooker Bill Pollard was driven over the line to score. The Force did score after a Donaldson blindside break that gave Potter his chance down the sideline to step inside a defender to score.

Brumbies 22 (Ryan Lonergan, Rob Valetini, Bill Pollard tries; Noah Lolesio 2 con, pen) Force 19 (Hamish Stewart, Michael Wells, Harry Potter tries; Ben Donaldson 2 con). HT: 8-14

Hurricanes 29 Blues 21

Hurricanes wing Josh Moorby gave his side the perfect start with two tries in 25 minutes. The first came after some stunning work by fullback Ruben Love on a short punt to the goalmouth that resulted in ruck clearance, moving the ball to Moorby on the right. In the same incident, the Blues lost fullback Zarn Sullivan and centre AJ Lam to leave no more backs on their bench. Moorby's second came after a lineout drive which saw the ball moved. A long last pass allowed Moorby to run in at the corner again. It said much for the Hurricanes' containment that it wasn't until a 33rd-minute intercept try by wing Mark Tele'a that the Blues finally got on the board.

A superb break by halfback Cam Roigard took play to the Blues' line and hurried support ensured the ruck was won, and wing Kini Naholo was on the end of the line to extend the lead to 24-7 with the try converted. A lineout drive saw hooker Kurt Eklund score in the 46th minute. Pressure from the home team saw Tele'a trapped in goal, and while the Blues escaped, it was only moments later that Naholo tidied a loose ball near halfway to launch a decisive, tackle-evading run before passing to second five-eighths Riley Higgins on his inside, who scored. Nine minutes from the end, replacement hooker Ricky Riccitelli crossed from a lineout drive. The home defence held although a last-minute penalty was awarded the first five-eighths. Stephen Perofeta's penalty goal bounced off the post to be cleared by the Hurricanes.

Hurricanes 29 (Josh Moorby 2, Kini Naholo, Riley Higgins tries; Brett Cameron 3 con, pen) Blues 21 (Mark Tele'a, Kurt Eklund, Ricky Riccitelli tries; Stephen Perofeta 3 con). HT: 17-7

Reds 25 Chiefs 19

Fullback Josh Ioane put the Chiefs on the board with the first try in the 12th minute, scoring on the back of some consistent driving play by the pack and then an inside cut to cross. But the Reds responded quickly, going to their lineout drive for hooker Matt Faessler to cross four minutes later. Two good runs by wing Suliaisi Vunivalu created the Reds' second try, the first giving them good field position and the second providing room down the blindside with inside support from No8 Harry Wilson and flanker Fraser McReight, who scored.

Flanker Simon Parker charged down a Vunivalu clearance in the 46th minute. The Chiefs pounced with the ball worked to the right flank, where wing Shaun Stevenson got across. But a kick into the Chiefs' 22 by replacement back Harry McLaughlin-Phillips produced a wicket bounce that beat Ioane and was taken by Reds wing Mac Grealy, who found centre Josh Flook inside to score the match-winning try with 24 minutes left. But that was only an entree to a thrilling finish, with McLaughlin-Phillips sealing the win with a penalty turnover five metres from his line after a 23-phase Chiefs assault on the line.

Reds 25 (Matt Faessler, Fraser McReight, Josh Flook tries; Tom Lynagh con, 2 pen; Harry McLaughlin-Phillips con) Chiefs 19 (Josh Ioane, Shaun Stevenson tries; Damian McKenzie 3 pen). HT: 15-11

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