The Armchair Coach: Round three

The Blues made the All Blacks-laden Crusaders look like a bunch of amateurs. Photo / Richard Robinson
The Blues made the All Blacks-laden Crusaders look like a bunch of amateurs. Photo / Richard Robinson

Patrick McKendry runs through all the highs and lows of Super Rugby's second round of action.

Fab four

Blues
Won 35-24 over Crusaders
Eden Park, Auckland
7th overall 2nd in NZC
Look out South Africa, the Blues are coming and on this form they will be expected to beat the Bulls and Lions and maybe pick up one or two bonus points. For the last 46 minutes of this match at Eden Park, the Blues made the All Blacks-laden Crusaders look like a bunch of amateurs. A stunning comeback.

Chiefs
Won 21-19 over Highlanders
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
3rd overall, 1st in NZC
As if we needed any more evidence that the Chiefs are a very good team, this was it. They left it late against the Highlanders, who would have every right to feel disappointed with this result, but they found a way to win. They can be happy with their work so far this season heading into this week's bye.

Waratahs
Won 32-5 over Reds
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
1st overall, 1st in AC
It's hard to know just how good these Waratahs are. Yes they enjoyed their best ever victory over their old rivals the Reds and are sitting on a perfect 10 points after two rounds, but they have played only Australian teams. We'll know more when they play the Sharks and Stormers in South Africa in rounds seven and eight.

Rebels
Won 35-14 over Cheetahs
Aami Park, Melbourne
6th overall, 2nd in AC
The traditional easy-beats have started with a bang. It was only the Rebels' first game of the season - they had a bye last weekend - but there were few signs of rust against the Cheetahs, who have become the one South African side to have become adept at touring.

Back of the week
Israel Folau (Waratahs)
Folau scored two tries to take his tally to five from two matches and is reaping the benefits of playing in a team performing with clarity and belief. Former Crusaders backs coach Daryl Gibson appears to be doing something right in Sydney. Fullback Folau has so many dimensions to his game the Tahs just need to keep giving him the ball.

Forward of the week
Scott Higginbotham (Rebels)
The big fella is back for the Rebels after an injury wrecked 2013 and the Wallabies loose forward is leading from the front. Set up a try with a piece of quick thinking against the Cheetahs and scored one himself, his team's fifth and final five-pointer against an outfit they had never beaten before.

Coach killer
Crusaders
They looked reasonably good in the opening half hour against a Blues team finding their feet, but once wings Frank Halai and Tevita Li scored for the home team, the Crusaders collapsed into a witless, mistake-ridden rabble. A similar Crusaders implosion is difficult to recall.

NZ Form XV
15 Ben Smith (Highlanders)
14 Cory Jane (Hurricanes)
13 George Moala (Blues)
12 Jackson Willison (Blues)
11 Tevita Li (Blues)
10 Simon Hickey (Blues)
9 TJ Perenara (Hurricanes)
8 Liam Messam (Chiefs)
7 John Hardie (Highlanders)
6 Faifili Levave (Hurricanes)
5 Joe Wheeler (HIghlanders)
4 Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues)
3 Chris King (Highlanders)
2 Dane Coles (Hurricanes)
1 Pauliasi Manu (Chiefs)

Highlights
Blues 35 Crusaders 24

Rebels 35 Cheetahs 14

Stormers 19 Hurricanes 18

Chiefs 21 Highlanders 19

Waratahs 32 Reds 5

Brumbies 27 Force 14

Bulls 25 Lions 17

- NZ Herald

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