Super Rugby week one: The winners and losers

Blake Gibson impressed in the Blues' opening win over the Highlanders. Photo /Getty
Blake Gibson impressed in the Blues' opening win over the Highlanders. Photo /Getty

The best and worst from the opening week of Super Rugby.

Forward of the week

Blake Gibson (Blues)
Gibson made his Super Rugby debut last season but the moment he truly arrived
was when he steamrolled Ben Smith like the fullback wasn't even there. Like Damian McKenzie, Gibson is another 20-year-old who appears destined for bigger things, excelling against the defending champions before and after his stunning solo try.

Back of the week
Damian McKenzie Chiefs)
McKenzie's breakthrough seasoncame courtesy of AaronCruden's knee injury and, as a result,the pair had rarely played together.

But in Christchurch, McKenzie and Cruden showed just how effective they can be in the same XV. The fullback excelled in all facets, and it was his willingness to play at first receiver that will pose problems for opposing defences.

Coach killer
David Havili (Crusaders)
The Crusaders had done well to limit the Chiefs' potent attack in the opening half hour at AMI Stadium, but that changed in the 32nd minute when, after fielding a kick to the corner, Havili had his pocket picked by Shaun Stevenson for the simplest of tries. The Crusaders fullback was far too careless as he carried the ball into the tackle and the Chiefs took full advantage.

The fab four

Brumbies
Demolishing a team who last year lost the grand final is a pretty good way for a side to situate themselves a top this list.

In 80 minutes,the Brumbies removed one element of uncertainty from the new competition and announced themselves as early favourites to take the title,running in seven tries to blow away the Hurricanes on both sides of the ball.

Blues
The Blues,for some reason, rarely threatened to feature in these rankings last season, so we must take every opportunity presented. And,to be fair to Umaga's men,they certainly deserve inclusion, playing with plenty of passion and no trace of fear to beat the Highlanders at their own game.

Stormers
Congratulations to the Stormers, the first team to lead an overall table that maybe kinda sorta matters? No matter how the standings break down,the Stormers did establish themselves as the team to beat in SA, scoring the game's only three tries in the final half hour to bust open what had been a battle of the boot.

Waratahs
Yes, it was only the Reds, but the Tahs showed the Australian conference could be at one of its strongest ebbs. Zac Guildford enjoyed a solid debut on the wing and Israel Folau was even better at fullback, combining with enough effect to suggest the Waratahs' attack will be one of the most dangerous in the competition.

- NZ Herald

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