Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Looking back: Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 3

Looking back: Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 3

Looking back: Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 3

The Blues impressed yet again, edging out the Highlanders while the Crusaders heaped more misery on the Chiefs. Shaun Goosen looks back at all of the round 3 Super Rugby Aotearoa action.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Impressive Blues head into bye top of the charts

Blues winger Caleb Clarke scores a try during the Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa match, between the Blues and Highlanders held at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. 27 June 2020
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports
The Blues maintained their perfect start to Aotearoa with a hard-fought 27-24 win over a determined Highlanders outfit in Auckland. Their upcoming bye has come at just the right time for Leon MacDonald and his charges, who will rest and recuperate this weekend ahead of an almighty showdown with the Crusaders in Christchurch in Round 5.

That match will be the true litmus test for this Blues team. The Aucklanders have not triumphed over Super Rugby’s most successful franchise since 2014, and while they may be riding a wave of momentum heading after a third straight win, the Saders are a different beast entirely. If they can manage to cause some chaos in Christchurch, the return leg at Eden Park will have all the makings of a classic – and may very well decide the title.

Saders get over the line in the wet

Will Jordan of the Crusaders
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports
The Crusaders sneaked past the Chiefs despite some trying conditions at the Orangetheory Stadium. Two Will Jordan tries, as well as a conversion and two penalties from Richie Mo’unga sealed a narrow 18-13 victory for the hosts, who recorded a 35th-consecutive home win under Scott Robertson in the process.

This bunch of Crusaders seem to be setting new record every other week and it doesn’t look likely they will be stopped in the competition – though the Blues may just about have something to say about that.

Chiefs now seriously under the cosh

A dejected Sam Cane of the Chiefs after the Super Rugby Aotearoa, Crusaders V Chiefs, at Orangetheory Stadium
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports
Warren Gatland is now under real pressure to salvage what he can of the remainder of the Aotearoa season. Three losses on the bounce is unacceptable for a side with such a wealth of talent and experience at their disposal, and another loss in Hamilton against the Hurricanes this weekend will well and truly set alarm bells ringing.

After such a promising start to the Super Rugby season earlier in the year, it has come as quite a shock to see many peoples’ favourites for the title not putting in the performances of which they are capable. That said, they weren’t too far off on Sunday and there is still time to earn a couple of Ws in the rounds ahead.

Player of the round: Dalton Papalii 

Blues loose forward Dalton Papalii scores during the Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa match, between the Blues and Hurricanes
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

While Will Jordan’s two tries in the round and Caleb Clarke’s all-round display were eye-catching, Dalton Papalii is the man who gets the nod this week as our Player of Round 3.

The 22-year-old Auckland native was sensational for the red-hot Blues, as his efforts powered his team to a narrow 27-24 win over the Highlanders at Eden Park.

The three-Test flanker bagged two tries, made two clean breaks and ran 41 metres in a memorable offensive performance. On the defensive side, he missed just one of 10 tackles and generally made a nuisance of himself at the breakdown – much to the chagrin of Ash Dixon and his troops.

With loose forward berths up for grabs at national level, there’s no doubt Papalii will be right up there with Sam Cane, Ardie Savea and Hoskins Sotutu on Ian Foster’s watch list. The young man still has plenty of playing years left in him and is widely believed to have a very bright future ahead – as much in all black as in blue.

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