Super Rugby AU Round 3: Australian rugby delivers quality footy

It was another big week of action with the Force proving they're not just here to make up the numbers, while the Brumbies and Waratahs put on a show in Sydney.

Although the Force didn't get the win in their return to Brisbane, they gave the Reds a real fright and pushed Queensland to the final minute, with a late James O'Connor drop-goal securing the win. Meanwhile, the Brumbies made it five wins in a row over the Waratahs after they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Read on for some of the major talking points from the weekend's action.


On Friday morning, New Zealand Rugby [NZR] delivered their Aratipu review and announced the future of rugby in New Zealand was in a trans-Tasman competition. But they would only take two, possibly three, Australian Super Rugby sides. According to pundits in New Zealand, there isn't enough quality rugby being played in Australia.

Hours later, the Queensland Reds and Western Force put on a display to prove the doubters wrong.

There's no denying the opening two rounds of Super Rugby AU were loose and the standard was down -- Round 2 showcased a dour display between the Rebels and Reds in the wet in Sydney, that saw the first ever 'Super Time' conclude with no end to the stalemate. But Round 3 saw a change of pace and a return to high quality rugby.

In a match highlighted by seven majors, we saw rolling maul tries, beautiful backline plays, exciting wingers finding the chalk - indeed the full complement of what Australian rugby can produce. The timing couldn't be any better and there's no doubt the competition can hit another level in coming weeks as teams really begin to play into the new experimental laws.

Despite having little support, the Force have been the excitement factor Super Rugby AU has needed, and they've proven they won't die wondering this year. In two games we've seen that they want to the throw the ball around, and they'll chance their arm with the results spectacular so far.

The Force flew out the blocks on Friday, picking up two tries in three minutes with flat backline movements that spread the Reds, and some enterprising play. The second try came off the back of a sneaky chip kick over the top of the Reds defence which saw centre Marcel Brache pick up and send it wide with Bryan Ralston finishing off the move.

The Reds returned serve with three of their own tries within 10 minutes, all off the back of some slick backline plays, amazing ball skills and the willingness to spread the ball and take their opportunities.

There was a marked reduction in aimless kicking, instead both teams wanted ball in hand, quick play and wide sweeping moves. The result was a high-octane spectacle that had everything, even a breathless finish.

Saturday's clash between the Waratahs and Brumbies was just as enthralling with six tries shared between the two teams and a result determined on the bell.

While the Brumbies produced some truly exciting tries, it was James Ramm's score in the 29th minute that really showed the quality of the young players coming through Australian rugby. With a penalty midfield, Will Harrison caught the Brumbies defence napping, spotting the space on the left wing with Ramm calling for a kick to the sideline. Harrison produced a perfectly weighted kick that Ramm collected on the bounce before he saw off two defenders to cross the chalk.

It was just one moment of creativity in a weekend of enterprising plays and exactly what Australian rugby needs.


After years of lamenting the lack of depth in Australian rugby, we're now beginning to see young stars push through the ranks across a variety of positions, but especially in the backrow where Australia has found themselves with an embarrassment of riches.

You can look across every Super Rugby AU team and the talent stands out. Liam Wright, Harry Wilson and Fraser McReight in Queensland; bulldozing Lachie Swinton, Jack Dempsey and Michael Hooper at the Waratahs; Pete Samu, Tom Cusack and Rob Valetini in Australia's capital; Michael Wells and Richard Hardwick in Melbourne and Tevin Ferris and Brynard Stander out west.

Almost every player listed above would have a good case for Wallabies selection providing new coach Dave Rennie with plenty of headaches determining who will take the limited spots, and the talent was on full display across the weekend.

The Force, Reds clash in Brisbane showcased some of Australia's rising backrow talents, before Saturday's Tahs, Brumbies match had a blend of youth and experience to whet the appetite.

Reds captain Wright led from the front again, setting the tone for his side and putting in another monster performance. Young guns McReight and Wilson continued their impressive performances this season, McReight making 12 tackles while Wilson notched up a dozen carries. The combination has been immense for the Reds so far this year -- helping them to an unbeaten four game run - and were impressive on Saturday, particularly late in the clash.

The Force enjoyed dominance from their loose trio on Friday. Samoan international Henry Stowers led the tackle count with 24, but flanker Ferris wasn't far behind making 21 tackles of his own and earned 40 run metres.

The viewing feast continued on Saturday with the mix of international experience and youth producing monster moments. The Brumbies were able to keep Hooper mostly quiet at the breakdown, but he wasn't absent in defence, making 19 tackles with hard-hitting Swinton not far off the pace making 17 of his own. But it was Valetini for the Brumbies who came out looking very sharp in the backrow battle. He packed a punch while running the ball, easily crossing the advantage line, delivered in defence with some smashing tackles and he was justly rewarded with his first Super Rugby try.