A timely reminder that there’s a lot of good stuff in our game too

If you’ve just been listening to the commentary around Super Rugby Pacific in recent weeks, you might be forgiven for wondering why people bother.

All the recent talk seems to be about what’s wrong with the game: there are too many cards, some of those cards are wrong, there are too many stoppages, too many referees are missing, the justice system is hopeless.

Some of my colleagues – and I don’t mean I warned you this would happen after the whole practice squad thing – have just decided to decide who will be chosen for the English series. There are still seven rounds of Super Rugby Pacific and three weeks of finals.

And of course, I contributed to some of the last few weeks. It’s quite easy to get caught up in the wash and be dragged. Meanwhile, the little bits and pieces of the English Premiership I’ve seen in recent weeks show that they continue to knock out entertaining games on a regular basis, and it’s not just England either.

Leinster scored some great tries against Munster this weekend in URC. Hell, even the Stormers-Ulster match at Newlands the other week was fun to watch.

So, I wanted to do something about the situation this week, and jotted down the really good tries that I enjoyed throughout round 8, just to remind myself that there’s still a lot to like on our way too.

And there really were. A lot.

It started Game 1 on Friday night in the rescheduled Round 5 game in Dunedin, where the Highlanders drew criticism afterwards for daring to score four tries on lineouts and perfectly within the laws of the game.

Critics seem to forget that prior to Friday night, the Highlanders were averaging less than two tries per game; frankly, they will score tries as they come.

But their fourth of the night, to book hooker Rhys Marshall, was a really patient maul who took a few scrambles to find an angle to start, and with the No. 16 steering him from the back brilliantly, leading him, re – lining him up, using his momentum well before coming unstuck and rushing.

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Just three minutes later, Moana Pasifika hit back after the Highlanders lost the ball on their own line.

Quickly spying on a power play, Moana Pasifika threw two wide passes from the right to cover thirty yards, briefly straightening the attack through Danny Toala, before Christian Leali’ifano took a short break from the next phase, putting the right winger Tima Fainga’anuku far into the corner beautifully.

The pass was outstanding – although TMO would like another look – Fainga’anuku’s celebration was something else, and Leali’ifano’s superb curling conversion from the touchline made it 22-17 and the game continued in the final 23 minutes.

Later Friday evening in the west, Manasa Mataele had already dazzled everyone with his display of acrobatics to knock the ball down in the 38th minute (which must have come from a forward pass, because physical, but never mind) , but his team-buddies came pretty close to eclipsing him.

Force's Manasa Mataele heads the ball.

Force’s Manasa Mataele heads the ball. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

From a scrum on their halfway side, and despite a bouncing pass to young opener Reesjan Pasitoa, the Force played wide and flat to quickly pass from right to left, covering the forty yards between the tram tracks less ten meters ahead. progress. By the time fullback Jake Strachan had the ball, the space on the left was already exploited.

Mataele drew in Andrew Kellaway and another Rebels defender before returning the ball over Strachan. The fullback then broke through the last line of defence, turning it into a run – a run that Kyle Godwin somehow won, despite being fifth in line, and after two cruel rebounds for the players in front.

I’m not sure even Godwin knows how he scored that one.

In Wellington on Saturday, no one was surprised when Crusaders fullback Will Jordan appeared on Will Jordan’s typical backline to score in the ninth minute against the Hurricanes. He seems to do it every week now.

The ‘Canes responded well though, with an otherwise unsuspecting short side raid into the Crusaders’ 22, producing a marvelous try for flanker DuPlessis Kirifi.

Josh Moorby looked to power a bog-standard three-on-three lineup left of the posts, but David Havili’s over-committed second man saw the Hurricanes fullback come off his left, straighten up and burst through the shoulder inside of the no .8 Crusaders Cullen Grace rushes in to now cover the inside line.

With Moorby through, that previously bog-standard three-on-three was suddenly a four-on-one, and a big offload with a Crusaders clutching his ankle put Jackson Garden-Bacho out, with Kirifi on the outside to finish, and with Wes Goosen on the outside as well.

A great try from scratch, and certainly not the last head-turner in what turned out to be a Cake Tin crack game.

The Blues were simply exceptional in Hamilton, there is no avoiding this problem. And when they score tries like Tom Robinson’s second of the night in the 53rd minute, it’s hard not to be impressed. And I tried, believe me.

Beauden Barrett landed a Chiefs kick on his own 22, drew two defenders and unloaded on Mark Talea to his left.

Talea somehow worked his way out and in nearly halfway through before releasing Reiko Ioane, who looked like he was out before being brought down in a desperate tackle at the interior of the Chiefs 22.

Quick recycling and watching a compressed Chiefs defense, Barrett hit a big cross kick at the five-yard junction, bouncing perfectly into Robinson’s run for a true Test of the Year contender . Incredible precision and incredibly brilliant play.

In Brisbane on Saturday night to finish, I thought when Fijian winger Drua Onisi Ratave crossed for his first of the night that something special would be needed to top it all off.

On their halfway side, the Drua went to pass, pass, offload on contact, run, dummy, pass, break the line to find themselves deep in attack in the Brumbies’ half.

Full-back Kitione Ratu crossed on the 22, preparing to pass while positioning three teammates inside. With Brumbies fullback Tom Wright drawn into the tackle, unloaded over Ratave on the inside, who shook Rod Iona to cross, running behind the posts.

But Wright may well have passed him with the last try of the round.

With the siren at full time nearly a minute into the past, the Brumbies recycled the ball just inside Drua’s ten-yard line and were keen to play for a bonus point ahead of a bye this weekend .

Two second-man plays – the second from Wright himself – found Iona in midfield with deep support against a Fijian defensive line rushing wildly down their left.

Substitute Hudson Creighton ran a good line before falling back inside past a frontline defender,
drawing scrum-half Simione Kuruvoli down the back line, putting Wright on the outside from thirty.

Tom Wright playing for the Brumbies

(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Bonus point guaranteed, and good luck trying to find a final trial of the week among this batch.

Of course, none of this is to say there’s anything wrong with the game, which is simply not true.

But with such a focus on what’s wrong, it’s a nice change from thinking about what’s good about the game in our part of the world.

And it’s certainly not a complete list either – I can’t wait to hear what you like right now.

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