This weekend was packed full of action as the United Rugby Championship playoffs were decided and Super Rugby brought 4 enthralling fixtures in round 9 of the competition. Bet Central looks at 5 takeaways from this past weekend.
Chiefs Simply Unstoppable
There were times when the Fijian Drua looked dangerous, but the Chiefs never looked in danger of relinquishing their unbeaten season thus far. As a team they just look so fluid and hard to penetrate for the opposition – not even Drua with all their X-factor broke them down easily.
Damian McKenzie much like in previous games was largely in control and dictated play well, Brodie Retallick who is entering his vintage years looked formidable and in control as a leader. Samisoni Taukei’aho – a ball-carrying colossal who is certainly in the conversation for premier hooker in the world right now.
Clarke, Barrett Peaking At The Right Time
For the Blues this season Caleb Clarke and Beauden Barrett have largely been non-factors as form has been a struggle for both, but in their resounding win against the Waratahs, both proved their worth with great performances.
Clarke was at his bustling best as he was a huge physical presence on attack and was rewarded with a try for his efforts. Barrett was a playmaking extraordinaire as he inspired the Blues with excellent distribution and kicking. Both are peaking in time as the international season approaches.
Concerns For Kolisi Injury
Equally so with the international season approaching, there will be huge concerns with Siya Kolisi limping off with a knee injury in the 22-all draw against Munster. The Springboks captain is crucial for the national side particularly in a World Cup year and with the showpiece a few months away the Springboks management and fans alike will be hoping it is not long-term.
The Sharks who relinquished a 19-point lead against Munster would have been hoping for Kolisi’s presence in the playoff particularly since they play an incredibly tough Leinster side and it now looks like they will not be able to call on his services for the remainder of the competition.
Leinster Finally Beaten
It was virtually a mix of academy players and the 2nd string side, but it was an official URC match and Leinster lost their unbeaten run in the URC after almost going a full regular season without loss – their only previous blemish was a draw with the reigning champions, the Stormers.
The Bulls handed Leinster their heaviest-ever defeat as they put 62 points on the board with Leinster scoring a solitary try in reply. It ended 62-7 to the Bulls, but Leinster’s frontline players will have got some downtime ahead of both URC and European playoffs.
Irish Teams Dominate URC Playoffs
Perhaps in line with Ireland currently being the most dominant team in the Test arena, it should be expected that their franchises/clubs dominate the domestic scene and it is evident in the URC where the Irish team make up half of the teams in the playoffs – they have 4 in the quarterfinals.
The Sharks, Stormers and Bulls are 3 South African representatives while Glasgow Warriors are the only Scottish side left. Like Ireland, Wales’ woeful return on the international stage is reflected in the absence of all Welsh sides in the playoffs.