Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

The Armchair Coach: Round two

Aaron Smith was in a different class in Dunedin. Photo / Getty Images
Aaron Smith was in a different class in Dunedin. Photo / Getty Images

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

Back of the week
Aaron Smith (Highlanders)
Smith was in a different class in Dunedin. The little halfback struggled with the Highlanders last season, basically because he was trying too hard. Against the Blues his speed of foot, delivery and thought completely bamboozled the Blues, with opposite Piri Weepu looking well short of a gallop.

Forward of the week
Jarrad Hoeata (Highlanders)
A lock or loose forward with serious potential, the problem with Hoeata was that his propensity for putting the niggle in took away from what he is on the field for. Yes, you are supposed to physically dominate the opposition, but within the laws, and he did that tremendously well against the Blues.

Coach killer
Tyler Bleyendaal (Crusaders)
Goalkickers can win tight matches for their team and this one, between the defending champion Chiefs and Crusaders in Christchurch was always going to be tight.

Unfortunately for Bleyendaal, a controversial selection ahead of Tom Taylor, he missed all five shots at goal and was dragged at halftime.

Fab four



1 - Chiefs
Won 18-10 over Crusaders
6th overall, 2nd in NZC
Picked up where they left off last season by winning against the odds once more. This was a rare win over the Crusaders in Christchurch and it was built on defensive grit and the ability to take their chances. James Lowe's intercept in the final minutes was a risk - if he missed it the Crusaders could well have scored and won the game.



2 - Highlanders
Won 29-21 over Blues
3rd overall, 1st in NZC
A performance eerily similar to the same fixture last year. A fantastic start, with All Blacks Aaron Smith and Ben Smith to the fore, was followed by a Blues comeback in the second half. The Highlanders looked motivated and believed in what they were doing. The Blues were woeful until the game was beyond reach.

3 - Lions
Won 34-10 over Stormers
2nd overall, 2nd in SAC
The second win in succession for a team in the African wilderness last year - and against the defensive might of the Stormers, no less. Keep an eye on Lions first-five Marnitz Boshoff, who appears to be the new Morne Steyn. Boshoff kicked two booming dropped goals in the opening 10 minutes in a haul of 29 points.

4 - Cheetahs
Won 15-9 over Bulls
3rd overall, 3rd in SAC
The Bulls involved in a tryless match? No surprise there. What was, though, was the way the Cheetahs held it together to win their first ever match against the men from Pretoria. Johan Goosen kicked the Cheetahs points against a team which started to throw the ball around in the final quarter just as heavy rain started to fall. It wasn't a good combination.

NZ Form XV
15 Charles Piutau (Blues)
14 Richard Buckman (Highlanders)
13 Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders)
12 Ryan Crotty (Crusaders)
11 Aseali Tikoirotuma (Chiefs)
10 Aaron Cruden (Chiefs)
9 Aaron Smith (Highlanders)
8 Nasi Manu (Highlanders)
7 Luke Braid (Blues)
6 Liam Messam (Chiefs)
5 Jarrad Hoeata (Highlanders)
4 Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)
3 Chris King (Highlanders)
2 Rhys Marshall (Chiefs)
1 Jamie Mackintosh (Chiefs)

- NZ Herald

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