Force continue their winning streak
April 12, 2014
Hat-trick hero Nick Cummins is taken high by Adam Ashley-Cooper © Getty Images
Western Force's winning streak continued with a 28-16 win over the New South Wales Waratahs in Perth. The Force made it five successive wins for the first time in their history with another outstanding defensive effort to grind down the Waratahs, who enjoyed the lion's share of possession for most of the match. Emerging cult hero Nick Cummins was the match winner for the Force as they won their first ever home match against the Waratahs, running in three tries. Cummins has attracted worldwide attention for his offbeat and colourful interviews, but let his rugby do the talking, twice sprinting almost the length of the field to score.
Defending champions the Chiefs scrambled to an unconvincing 22-16 win over the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday at Waikato Stadium, their first victory in four games. After racing to a 19-0 lead in the opening 23 minutes, the Chiefs struggled for much of the remainder of the match as the Rebels fought back to being within a whisker of snatching an unlikely victory. There was only one try apiece, with victory ultimately determined by the boot of Gareth Anscombe who punished the Rebels with five penalties.
The Crusaders scored four tries in the last 16 minutes as they won 52-31 against the Cheetahs at Vodacom Park. The scoreline flattered the Crusaders who trailed by five points after 63 minutes gone before their closing rally.
The Brumbies survived a fightback from the Reds to win 23-20 in Brisbane on Friday. The away side stormed to an early lead thanks to a try from Scott Fardy and the boot of Nic White. Joe Tomane then got in the act and it looked like the Brumbies were going to pull away but Beau Robinson's score thanks to a powerful Reds rolling maul saw the Brumbies go into the break 20-10 to the good. White slotted a further three points at the start of the second 40 but after that it was the Reds who were dominant. Ed Quirk scored in the 62nd minute and they could have had more joy had it not been for Quade Cooper knocking on over the line and another score being ruled out due to an infringement from Quirk in the build-up. The Reds have now lost four of their last five games.
The Highlanders recovered from a slow start to beat the Bulls 27-20 in Dunedin. Bjorn Basson's try 20 minutes in had put the Bulls firmly on control of the contest after a couple of early penalties but the Highlanders came back to level it before the break as Lima Sopoaga crossed the line. Two tries in the space of 10 minutes early in the second half then flipped the game on its head with Gareth Evans and Malaki Fekitoa getting the scores. The Bulls were struggling to build any momentum and the Highlanders were close to another try in the 66th minute when Fekitoa burst through the defence but was stopped short on the line. There was a late consolation for the Bulls as Marcel van der Merwe drove over the line in the last minute, but it could not mask a disappointing display.
Stephen Moore and Ed Quirk come to blows in a feisty all-Australian clash in Brisbane © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures