Every Dawg has his day: Blues and Reds turn it on in Super Rugby classic

The two teams with the least amount of thought put into their names turned on an absolute barnburner in Brisbane last night, as Super Rugby Pacific’s Anzac Round saved its best ’til last.

The 41-34 win by a relieved Blues came down to the final play of an incredible contest, featuring arguably the best hat trick since the days of Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen, and forcing a change at the top of the table for the first time this season.

More importantly for those in charge, it also showed that rugby union is still very much a viable product in Australia when it is done right, as well as showing that New Zealand teams don’t need to rely on each other to provide interesting fixtures.

To be fair, both of those things have been proven quite a bit this season already – like when the Reds beat the Chiefs and Highlanders, the Waratahs and Crusaders game going down to the wire, or any time the Drua have played in Lautoka.

Despite the result, the performance of some of the Reds players would have been very pleasing to new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt, who was in attendance at Suncorp Stadium.

But really this one will be remembered for Tim ‘the Junkyard Dawg’ Ryan’s hat trick. His first two were good enough on their own, but the third will go down as one of the greatest tries in the competition’s history as he first leapt, then stepped, then swerved his way to the line on an incredible 50-metre run to give the Reds a two-score lead.

It was all in vain, though, as the Blues consolidated, kept their heads and struck back through two of their bench players. Kurt Eklund finished off a sweeping move and then Sam Nock ran in the winner off a beautiful run by Caleb Clarke. That is really where the difference was in the end, as the Blues’ depth was experienced enough to pull back the lead against a young Reds side.

Schmidt would not have been the only one intrigued with what he saw. Clarke’s very good shift off the bench, which included a clearance kick that would have made any first five in the world envious, again pressed his case for the upcoming test season. Hoskins Sotutu’s second half try gave him the record for a Blues forward in one season, so he certainly cannot be ignored either.

Brumbies beat up Canes, Highlanders win but somehow still disappoint

If the Blues and Reds was a contender for best game of the year, the Highlanders’ 7-6 win over the Force in Dunedin is somewhere at the opposite end of the scale.

To put it in perspective: the Phoenix v Macarthur FC game almost had the same halftime score, despite being a football match. Still, the Highlanders are very much in the ‘we’ll take it’ mode after five losses in a row.

Also, what on earth was going on at halftime at Forsyth Barr Stadium when a bunch of armed policemen and dog handlers came onto the field to play act an arrest? Given it was Anzac Round surely they could have organised something a little more relevant.

New Zealand Police staff perform a demonstration at half time.

So, while we had the best and arguably worst of trans-Tasman rugby in those games, the Brumbies’ 27-19 win over an admittedly flat Hurricanes side definitely landed nearer the top although it lacked a dramatic finish.

That is credit to the Brumbies though, especially when you consider they were coming off a disaster of a performance last weekend at Eden Park.

Canes coach Clark Laidlaw tasted defeat for the first time in his Super Rugby career. Now their match against the Blues in a fortnight is looming as the decider for who finishes top of the table before the play-offs.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs game ended up being a comfortable enough 38-22 win over the Waratahs, in a game notable for yet another massive hit by the frankly terrifying Samipeni Finau.

Poor Tane Edmed was the target this time, as the one-test All Black blindside has quickly developed a taste this season for obliterating first fives.

Again, it is a great sight for Robertson, as Finau’s brutality will come in very handy if he can transfer it to test rugby.

What a difference Scott Barrett can make.

The Crusaders’ 39-0 demolition of the Rebels was built on an exceptional scrummaging performance – a good building block to be put in place for what will need to be a quick rebuild over the next few weeks.

The draw is certainly favourable, so while they might be running late to their heavily predicted resurgence, this win has certainly put everyone else on notice again.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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