Super Rugby Aotearoa

5 talking points: Super Rugby Aotearoa Week 6

  • Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Week 6 of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
  • The Hurricanes edged the Blues 29-27 in Wellington on Saturday, while the Highlanders claimed an epic 33-31 come-from-behind win over the Chiefs in Hamilton.
  • The Crusaders, who had a bye, remain top of the standings with four wins from four, while the Chiefs are rock bottom with five consecutive defeats.

Jordie Barrett claims sibling bragging rights

Saturday's match in New Zealand's capital pitted the Barrett brothers, Jordie and Beauden, against each other at fullback during the Hurricanes' win over the Blues.

On this occasion, it was younger brother, Jordie, who walked away with the spoils after kicking a decisive late conversion from the corner to sneak a victory.

Beauden, booed on his first few touches by his former home crowd, scored a sublime first half try when a sneaky dummy and break saw him speed through.

But it was Jordie who had the last laugh with his pressure cooker conversion, and it will be interesting to see which of the two brothers wears the All Blacks No 15 jersey later this year.

Laumape on the rampage

Hurricanes inside centre Ngani Laumape had a barn-storming game and produced a performance that would have caught the eye of All Blacks coach Ian Foster.

He scored a magical try in the third minute when he rounded Beauden from 45m out before charging over in the corner.

Later, the burly No 12 almost scored again when he ran straight over Beauden - in all, Laumape made 15 runs, gained 133m on attack, broke five tackles and made three line breaks.

Flyhalf or fullback for Beauden?

When the Blues lost Otere Black with what appeared a serious neck injury, Beauden Barrett was forced to play the latter part of the match at flyhalf.

He has played his last five Tests for the All Blacks at fullback, with Richie Mo'unga cracking the nod at flyhalf, while the Blues have also utilised him at No 15 in recent weeks.

He has not disgraced himself at the back, but there is an argument that he is more valuable at flyhalf, closer to the action.

Barrett's try came after taking the ball at first receiver, and with Black likely to be out for next weekend's match against the Chiefs in Auckland, the former looks set for a stint in the No 10 jersey again.

In the post-match press conference, Barrett indicated he preferred playing at flyhalf.

"I enjoyed that role and it's obviously my preferred position. I've been training there for the second half of trainings in case Otey [Black] got injured I'd be ready for that.

"I'm just happy to be playing where I can get ball in hand, that's where I feel that I have more influence."

Mo'unga has been red-hot for the Crusaders this season, and if Barrett stars at pivot for the Blues for the remainder of the competition, the All Blacks selectors may have a tough call to make later in the year.

Highlanders stun Chiefs with epic fightback

The Chiefs looked set for their first win in the competition when they led the Highlanders 31-7 after 45 minutes in Hamilton, only to see the men from Otago score four unanswered tries and snatch an epic win at the death.

The Chiefs also lost to the Highlanders in the dying seconds in their opening Super Rugby Aotearoa match in Dunedin last month.

Coach Warren Gatland will be a worried man - it was the Chiefs' fifth successive defeat in the competition, and their sixth overall, having lost 27-24 at home to the Hurricanes before the regular Super Rugby season was abandoned due to Covid-19.

Six losses in a row mean the Chiefs have also equalled their worst-ever losing streak, with the two previous times having been across two seasons - in 1998 and 1999 and 2008 and 2009.

It was also a record fifth home defeat in a row.

Technicality issue in TMO call

Leading 31-19 in the 65th minute, the Chiefs thought they had put the game to bed when fullback Damian McKenzie scored after creating something out of nothing.

However, after replays showed an accidental offside when captain Sam Cane's knee knocked the ball into flyhalf Kaleb Trask's foot, the try was ruled out by referee Mike Fraser and television match official Brendon Pickerill.

Technically, it was correct call, but the incident occurred more than two phases back, and according to the regulations, officials are not allowed to look that far back for indiscretions.

Credit to Gatland though, who chose not to lay into the officials afterwards.

"I'm not unhappy about that, but if he's going to do that, then make the ruling [on two phases]... Because you could be in a situation with another game where the referee turns and says 'No, that's too far back'.

"You could argue you could have just played on and said that's a try. We just need to make sure we have some consistency. Sometimes in teams, winning becomes a habit, and losing does, and calls go against you, and you've got to be smart in terms of how you get out of that, so we're pretty disappointed about that," the Chiefs coach said.