Day 1 of the Brisbane Tens saw low crowds take away the headlines from some of the action-packed displays of rugby. There are suggestions the Tens could be headed to New Zealand after just 11,430 supporters showed up on Friday at Suncorp Stadium.
The Chiefs, Crusaders, and Blues went unbeaten to top each of their Pools while the Hurricanes and Highlanders finished with one win and one loss each.
The Chiefs look formidable with Tim Nanai-Williams showing his class throughout the day. He looks like a favourite to take home the MVP award if the Chiefs have another successful run on day two. A controversial no-try helped them overcome the Highlanders 17-12 before they pasted the French club Pau 31-7.
The Hurricanes were a major disappointment in an error-ridden display first up against a clinical Crusaders side who punished them 22-0. The Hurricanes squeaked past Fiji 12-5 in their final match of the day while the Crusaders then put the Brumbies to the sword 31-7.
The hometown Reds went winless on the day, after getting thumped by the Blues 29-7 before losing at the death against the Rebels 21-17 after their captain Samu Kerevi was yellow carded for a high shot. The Aussie derby saw an impressive performance from Izaia Perese.
The Waratahs were the most impressive Australian side, beating French visitors Pau 31-5 in their opening match, and pushing the Highlanders all the way to lose on a last-gasp try 12-10. The Brumbies were handsomely beaten by the Crusaders and just managed to outlast Fiji while the Rebels were beaten by Japan’s Panasonic Wild Knights before a last-gasp win over the Reds.
The Blues up-and-comers Jordan Trainor, Caleb Clarke, and Dalton Papalii were impressive while the Crusaders wings George Bridge and Manasa Mataele were dangerous. Their execution of team-play was a cut above the rest, and their underrated squad looks good to push for finals contention.
Day 2 will start with the final round-robin clashes and the top two teams from each pool will qualify for the finals.
The Blues, Chiefs and Crusaders look assured finalists as they will play the Rebels, Waratahs and Fiji respectively in their final pool game with the result only determining who will get the first-round bye in the playoffs.
The Hurricanes will need a solid victory over the Brumbies with the winner likely qualifying. The Reds look all but done but the Wild Knights could sneak through if they keep the hosts winless. A Highlanders win could knock out the Waratahs if they go down to the Chiefs.
All five Kiwi sides could qualify while the Australian sides are looking shaky to secure at least one playoff spot.
Day 1 Results
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