Posted by ESPN Scrum & Videos: http://www.dailymotion.com/video on March 17, 2015
Round 5 Review:
Hurricanes march on as Brumbies batter Reds
Hurricanes fans had to wait four weeks to finally see their side play at home, and the Wellington-based franchise certainly didn't disappoint even though they were away from Westpac Stadium. The Canes' seven-point win over the Blues in Palmerston North showed their three wins on the road to start the season were anything but a flash in the pan, and they may just have the fans in yellow-and-black thinking 2015 may finally be year. Elsewhere in Round 5, there were wins for the Rebels, Crusaders, Highlanders, Brumbies, Chiefs and Sharks. Read on for a full review below and watch video down the right-hand side of this page.
The Hurricanes remain unbeaten following a 30-23 win over the Blues (Australia only)
There is unlikely to be any respite for Sir John Kirwan after the Blues sunk to their fifth straight loss this season, albeit after an improved performance. The Hurricanes added to the Blues woes, with a Julian Savea double extending the home side's unbeaten run and reinforcing their championship claims. In the pick of their efforts so far in 2015, the Blues pushed the Canes to the edge but lacked a finish. If Kirwan is feeling the heat then things couldn't be any better for first-year Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd. His side's clash with the Highlanders on Friday has all the makings of a five-star showdown.
A blistering first 30 minutes from the Rebels helped them to a second win for the season on Friday night, albeit only after they withstood a brave Western Force fightback. The Rebels looked to be heading for a comfortable and crucial away win after five-pointers to Mike Harris and Dom Shipperley but the Force slowly worked their way back into the encounter as their "route-one rugby" started to take its toll in tight. Two second-half penalties were all the Rebels could muster as the Force began to dominate possession and territory, and it was game on when Tetera Faulkner scored his maiden Super Rugby try nine minutes from time; but the hosts couldn't find another try and slipped to their fourth loss on the trot.
The Crusaders were always going to be a different side when the likes of Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock returned, and so it proved as the seven-time champions found some form against the Lions. The 34-6 victory over the South African won't have coach Todd Blackadder jumping for joy just yet, though, as the visitors edged their more-fancied hosts for possession and territory but lacked the quality to capitalise on their opportunities. Three second-half tries, one a penalty try, delivered the flattering scoreline while the big men up front deserved many of the plaudits as the Crusaders scrum monstered their opposite eight at just about every set-piece.
The Highlanders denied the Waratahs a milestone away win as they slowly dismantled the visitors' attack and stripped bare the Tahs defence. Beating the Tahs at their own game, the Highlanders showed power, brutality and skill and sent a clear message of their championship intentions. The Tahs, however, continued to look like a watered-down version of the championship side as they felt the pressure and slowly crumbled through the middle period of the match. They may only be five weeks in, but Michael Cheika may have to pull his golf clubs out already.
The bye week hasn't come fast enough for the Reds after they fell to one of their worst losses at home. Kept pointless, Reds coach Richard Graham will be under the pump for the next few weeks. He will get some good news during the bye with several injured players, including Quade Cooper and James O'Connor, likely return in Round 7 against the Lions. With an injury list packed full of Super Rugby caps, the Reds suffered further bad luck with Ben Daley a late scratching due to a shoulder injury, while lock James Horwill was taken off during the match for a concussion test. The Brumbies, meanwhile, were unstoppable as they piled on the points and denied the Reds any chance of redemption from the round-one hammering. Stephen Larkham's side are looking more and more like title contenders with each week; the chance to add to the defending champions troubles next Sunday should excite.
The top-of-the-table clash between the Stormers and Chiefs proved to be the thrilling encounter many expected, with Dave Rennie's side finishing the stronger to record a massive away win. It also may prove to be the turning point for Aaron Cruden and his much-discussed right boot, with the Chiefs and likely All Blacks No.10 kicking five from seven to show he may finally be finding his range. The rest of Cruden's game was nigh-on exemplary as he ran for 63 metres, made two clean breaks, scored a try and set up another. Flanker Sam Cane had another fine game at No.7 while his 13 tackles were matched by the ever-improving Englishman Matt Symons. The Stormers led 16-13 at half-time and had the greater share of possession after the break, but they were significantly less threatening in attack. Their first defeat of the season is hardly cause for alarm, however, and the round-six bye provides an opportunity to fine-tune their attack before they head for Australasia.
A 30-minute pointless period certainly tested the patience of the Bloemfontein faithful on a night when there was very little to smile about for Cheetahs fans. A three-try first-half blitz virtually secured the Sharks all four points by half-time, while Jack Wilson's try seven minutes from time locked down the bonus point. Back-rower Marcell Coetzee produced another robust display and crossed for two tries of his own while fly-half Patrick Lambie was at the centre for most of the visitors' attacking raids. The Cheetahs dominated both possession and territory but poor handling repeatedly proved their downfall.
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