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