It’s time for our Monday wrap of who has their name in lights and who is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons after the weekend.
THEY’RE ON FIRE
TJ Perenara and Christian Lealiifano: What a touching tribute from the winning Hurricanes captain in his post-match interview. Before signing off the scrum-half made a point of congratulating returning Brumbies player Lealiifano after his fightback from leukaemia and it was spot on. Perenara got something of a bad rep in the Lions series but this was excellent, as was Lealiifano’s performance in Canberra on Friday.
Crusaders: That was championship winning rugby from the Crusaders last Saturday. The rain was pouring in Christchurch and they played the perfect game for the conditions, seeing off the Highlanders who were second best in so many areas. Their pack was strong, Bryn Hall put in an excellent showing at the base while defensively everyone was on their game, meaning the Highlanders were nilled. Not many teams do that.
Ed Jackson: Another player who took a huge step on the road to recovery this past week was former Dragons back-row Jackson. Just 100 days since an accident in a swimming pool saw him suffer a broken neck, the 28-year-old managed to take his first steps with his girlfriend by his side. Jackson was initially told he would not walk again so this was wonderful to see and we wish him well as the recovery continues.
Jordie Barrett: 20 points from this talented youngster against the Brumbies on Friday. His stock is soaring at the moment and this was yet another strong showing that saw him score a try, set one up and kick 15 points. His brother has been a touch off form recently but Jordie is getting better and better at the moment and was crucial in the Hurricanes’ patient win. A special mention must also go to Ardie Savea.
COLD AS ICE
Elton Jantjies: That was a bad day at the office. He was successful with just two out of his six attempts at goal on Saturday, with a few of them hardly difficult. Jantjies pushed his efforts on more than one occasion and it almost cost the Lions their progress to the semis. The relief when Ruan Combrinck’s long-range penalty went over was visible on his face and he will hope that was a freak day at the office.
Canberra attendance: For the second straight week this makes an appearance as there were plenty of empty seats at a few of the venues. For the Brumbies versus Hurricanes clash it was especially disappointing to witness, particularly as it was Stephen Larkham’s last game in the job on home soil and also Lealiifano’s comeback. Only 9,771 made it out to see it while in Christchurch there were large sections of spare seats, this largely being because of the awful weather they had been having. Domestic flights from Dunedin were also affected due to that.
0 from 26: So that is that for 2017; Australia’s Super Rugby franchises finish with no wins from their 26 games against their New Zealand counterparts. This doesn’t bode well for the Rugby Championship and with South African tails up the Wallabies could be battling for third.
Quade Cooper and Scott Higginbotham: It was a bold decision from Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika to leave the fly-half out of his 38-man squad but there can be few arguments from Cooper. He’s been out of sorts this season while Higginbotham also misses out, with Cheika going for younger back-row options instead. For the record we’re impressed by Cheika’s calls as the youngsters definitely deserve a shot.