Four massive games for the Australian Conference of Asteron Life Super Rugby with ramifications at both ends of the table. The Waratahs close out the weekend on top but only just, while the Reds ran riot in Perth over the Western Force.
But here are the ‘Talking Points’
1. Aussie Conference in the balance
A Brumbies win over the Bulls and a losing bonus-point for the Tahs against the Lions, has the Australian conference all tied up on 42 points. The Sydney-siders only on top because of games won, they face the Cheetahs (away) and Reds (home) to finish their season. The Brumbies fly to Perth to face the Force before returning home for a salivating match-up with the Crusaders. Top spot is anyone’s guess.
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2. Super Cooper
His first game back after an eight-week layoff but Quade Cooper didn’t miss a beat in the Reds’ 22-point win over the Force. Dotting down for a double while also going five-from-six with the boot had Richard Graham happy, but it was his pace, passing and game management that caught the eye. If this performance was anything to go by then three weeks will be more than enough time to impress Michael Cheika and his Wallabies selectors.
3. Tah’s get Yellow fever in South Africa
Well the headline is a *bit mis-leading as they haven’t all gone down with the mosquito-borne viral disease, but after three yellow cards in two weeks, let’s hope this outbreak isn’t contagious. Rob Horne will miss the next three matches for a dangerous lifting tackle, while Jaques Potgieter lasted just four minutes before spending ten in the bin for a shoulder charge. Discipline is sure to be mentioned by Michael Cheika this week.
4. Sam Carter’s knee
An injury that will have major repercussions for the Brumbies and the Wallabies. A 12-week layoff with a medial strain has his World Cup dreams in the balance but it’s the Brumbies that lose big time. The lock will miss their title tilt, leaving it up to the inexperienced trio of Rory Arnold, Jordan Smiler and Blake Enever.
5. Higgers hitting form
Four tries in five weeks, including two solo efforts against the Sharks has Michael Cheika taking serious notice. Higginbotham leading from the front at the Shark Tank with the Rebels nearly pulling off the impossible. The Melbourne-ites nearly got it done despite playing over 50 minutes with 14-men after Laurie Weeks saw red for his brain explosion.