Friday, March 30, 2007

Super 14 fever heating up

May 6, 2006

A couple days ago I wrote: "Rugby Planet also has the Waratahs taking the hometown Chiefs to the cleaners by 20 points, but hopefully it’ll be closer than that — a little Mooloo pride and an upset may be on the cards."

As predicted (o-kay, hoped), an upset on the cards:

Chiefs 37 Waratahs 33

The Chiefs produced an extraordinary win against the odds over the Waratahs tonight to add extra spice to the upcoming Super 14 rugby playoffs.

Their unexpected 37-33 success at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton left a bad taste in the mouths of the Waratahs players, who entered the match primed to complete the regular season in pole position for the semifinals.

That meant a home semifinal and final, if they progressed that far, a scenario which is now by no means certain as they slipped to three points behind the competition leading Crusaders with one round remaining.

The match produced nine tries, five of them to the losers, and as a spectacle it was arguably the high point of a Super 14 season which has not risen to great heights.

However, the Waratahs were left to rue a lamentable defensive performance, which would have particularly pricked their pride because they boast the best defensive record in the competition.

They leaked four tries against a potentially dangerous Chiefs side, who were electric with ball in hand and thankful holes kept appearing for them all over the park.

Fullback Mils Muliaina scored two of the Chiefs' tries, while first five-eighth David Hill left an imprint courtesy of his three penalties and four conversions.

It's been a good weekend for the kiwi sides so far. In addition to the Chiefs upset, the Crusaders beat the Bulls 35-17 to knock the latter out of semi-final contention; the Highlanders sneaked past the Bumbies 28-26; and earlier the Hurricanes kept their playoff chances in place with a hard-fought 26-22 win over the Reds. If the Blues can rally over the Cats later today, NZ fans will have big smiles and be talking confident trash-talk for a few days as we swing into the tournaments final weekend.

Full results, standings, fixtures and details here. Will post the full standings table shortly after...


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