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Hope springs eternal for Australian Super Rugby sides as weekend of success promises much for the future

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Brumbies and Queensland Reds hope they’ve created a turning point for Australian rugby after delivering a sharp one-two punch over the weekend.


Positivity has been in short supply through the first three rounds of Super Rugby but that changed in Hamilton when the Brumbies shrugged off a week of illness concerns and conjured a sublime first half against the previously-unbeaten Chiefs.

The 26-14 boilover ended a one-sided run of trans-Tasman results on Kiwi soil and confirmed Dan McKellar’s team are again the most likely Australia to push for silverware in 2020.

Hours later in Brisbane, Queensland side ripped up the form book with a 64-5 rout of the hapless Sunwolves, their first win of the season also the biggest in their 328-game competition history.

The Melbourne Rebels’ 36-24 home loss to the Sharks meant it wasn’t a perfect weekend but it didn’t stop Australian teams tallying the best record (2-1) of any of the five participating nations.

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McKellar hoped it would be the starting point for change in how the sport in Australia is regarded, both at home and from overseas, following several years of negativity on and off the field.

“Over the last two years, I’ve spoken to the group about bucking the trends and creating some positivity so that people are talking about good things in rugby union and not the negative things,” he said.


“There’s so many people in our game who enjoy bagging our game.

“From a Brumbies point of view, we’re obviously very happy and we’re all moving forward now.”

New Wallabies coach Dave Rennie would have appreciated the sight of a Brumbies pack physically dominating his former team, while young five-eighth Noah Lolesio provided more glimpses of his possible Test credentials.

Veteran James O’Connor shone in a far easier playmaker assignment for the Reds, putting team-mates into gaps at will in the 10-try romp.

While the level of opposition was questionable, it didn’t stop Reds coach Brad Thorn from hailing the raw potential in his young side after three relatively close losses on the road.


“In three to four years there’s going to be a pretty good team here you’d imagine,” Thorn said.

“I think they can be a very good team now; I’ve said to the team ‘there’s a good team here, you’ve just got to realise that’.

“But I’m saying guys when they’re 25, 26, 27, 28 in their prime that’s pretty exciting too. I don’t know if I’ll be here to be a part of that but I’m enjoying being a part of that at the moment.”

There was little to enthuse over from Melbourne besides another barnstorming display from their Wallabies back-rower Isi Naisarani against a Sharks side who will be a handful for the Reds this week.

The Stormers are the only unbeaten team in the competition after holding out the Jaguares 17-7 in Cape Town while the travelling Blues pulled off a late 23-21 defeat of the Bulls.

The Crusaders beat the Highlanders 33-13 on Friday.


WATCH: Israel Folau missed team training in Barcelona for the Catalans Dragons.

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Nickers 2 hours ago
'One of the poorest All Blacks performances I've seen in a long time'

Extreme hyperbole from Biggar. NZ have played far, far worse than that. The 20/21 team was by far the worst of the professional era. Losses to Argentina, shambolic game against Japan and hapless NH tour of 2021. But even that dreadful team were able to put 50 points on Wales and beat them by 38. Much easier to “tear them to pieces” from the commentary box apparently. Ignored by virtually everyone is how good the ABs defence was. That is why England didn’t win, they simply could not score enough points against that defence. The ABs attack was very average, but their defence was world class and that’s what won them the game. Any Wales team that Biggar has ever played for would have found themselves in the same situation and would definitely not have scored tries from those cross kicks. That ABs team beats Biggar’s best Wales team 31 - 13. England’s attack was as good as it was allowed to be by a superior defence. Hats off to Hansen, he has picked up where MacLeod finally got the ABs to last year and not missed a step. England’s attack will be a big worry for Borthwick. They have not established a reliable, repeatable way to break teams down and score points. They were held to some very low scores by average teams in the 6N, and again here didn’t cross 20 points on either occasion. If I was an England fan I would be crying out for a new attack coach. Borthwick would do well to cast his net now, a poor home winter with a faltering attack will start the calls for his job.

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Thomas 2 hours ago
'Champions get up when they can't': Matt Williams weighs in on Ireland's win over Boks

While both teams have their particular positives, I think neither team should rest on their laurels. South Africa managed to tie a series against an uncomfortable opponent, that has had their numbers for a couple of years, while trial-running a completely new attack system, that still doesn’t work properly. But one aspect of “it doesn’t work yet” is a transition from attack to defense in broken play, as the Boks leaked three tries in two matches this way, and lost the second match as a result. Ireland avoided a series loss in a hostile environment, and in spite of many key player injuries, while managing to significantly improve and tighten their defense in game 2 (which demonstrates the breadth of their squad as well as their ability to adjust and recalibrate). At the same time, their own attack hadn’t amounted to much, either (save from exploiting the gaps in the Boks’ new system, gaps that won’t be there anymore in a few months’ time), and they haven’t found an answer to the Boks scrum, which almost costed them the 2nd match, if it hadn’t been for pretty much unrepeatable Frawley heroics. In the end, there isn’t much that separates those two sides … which is exactly what we knew before the series already. Back to the drawing board for both teams, the work only just begins for two teams with the highest ambition. Start of a cycle alright.

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