Defending champions start with win
February 23, 2013
All Blacks' flanker Liam Messam helped the Chiefs start the new season with a win over the Highlanders © Getty Images
The Chiefs began their defence of the Super Rugby title in impressive style as they won 41-27 away to the Highlanders.
Centre Tim Nanai-Williams scored a brace of tries and wings Patrick Osbourne and Asaeli Tikoirotuma grabbed one apiece. Fullback Gareth Anscombe kicked 21 points from five penalties and three conversions as the Chiefs laid down a marker for the rest of the season.
The Southern Kings celebrated their first Super Rugby victory in their first attempt as they claimed a 22-10 win over the Western Force. South Africa's new Super Rugby franchise trailed 10-5 at half time after Pekahou Cowan and Alfi Mafi scored tries for the Force. But the Kings hit back in the second period as two penalties from Demetri Catrakilis edged them ahead before Sergeal Petersen ran in his second try of the match and Catrakilis completed an historic victory.
Triple champions the Bulls beat the Stormers 25-17 in front of a crowd of 44,272 at Loftus Versfield thanks to a faultless kicking display from Moyne Steyn. The fly-half kept the pressure on the Stormers with a mature tactical kicking display and landed seven from seven from the tee, while hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle scored their only try.
Patrick Lambie kicked 19 points as the Sharks began their Super Rugby campaign with a 29-22 victory over the Cheetahs. The South Africa fly-half slotted five penalties and converted tries from Lwazi Mvovo and Marcell Coetzee to lead the Sharks to an opening victory at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein. The Cheetahs outscored the Sharks three tries to two with Johann Sadie, Pieter Labuschagne and Phillip Van Der Walt all crossing but were always playing catch up after trailing 16-5 at the break.
In Australia the Brumbies added the Melbourne Rebels' scalp to their growing collection with a clinical 30-13 win. After accounting for Queensland in the opening round, the Brumbies delivered an emphatic second-half performance to fight back from 13-12 down and establish themselves as the Australian conference heavyweights.
Head coach John Kirwan celebrated his first match in-charge of the Blues with a hard-fought 34-20 bonus-point win over the Hurricanes in which Frank Halai scored two tries on his debut. The big winger enjoyed an eventful first start. He scored a try in each half and spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin midway through the second half for deliberately knocking the ball out of play, an incident that resulted in a penalty try for the Hurricanes.
Charles Piutau and Rene Ranger added further tries to the score, though Piiri Weepu, who was playing his 100th Super Rugby game against his former team, missed four of nine kicks at goal.
At Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium - venue for the Lions first Test on June 22 - Reds defeated their interstate rivals Waratahs 25-17. The hosts showed the benefit of having already played a game - even though they were defeated comprehensively by the Brumbies in round one - and they were more switched on from the opening whistle.
Dominic Shipperley scored the Reds' opening try before Ben Tapuai grabbed a brace. Israel Folau marked his Super Rugby debut with a try and while Ben Volavola grabbed a second for the Waratahs just before the hour mark, it wasn't enough to deny the 2011 champions domestic bragging rights.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor