Super Rugby 2016: Week 2 round-up

The second week of the 2016 Super Rugby season is in the books, and it was a promising weekend for many of the South African franchises

Super Rugby 2016: Week 2 round-up
Brumbies players celebrate Joe Tomane's try in their victory over the Waratahs (image via: Alex Ellinghausen, Canberra Times)

After two weeks of the Super Rugby season, there are only four unbeaten sides left in the competition following another weekend of drama. 

It was a strong weekend for the South African sides, who enjoyed victories home and away, while the Brumbies have taken early control of the Australian conference. 

In New Zealand, every side has already tasted defeat over the opening two matches, with last year's round-robin victors the Hurricanes so far without a win from their two outings. 

Sharks, Stormers and Lions pick up second-straight wins in battle at top of South African conference

The Lions picked up their second road victory of the campaign, winning a thriller 36-32 in Waikato against the Chiefs. After missing out on the playoffs by a point last year, the Lions look determined not to leave it to chance and have made the perfect start to the season.

Their four try victory was their first in Waikato for nine seasons and should give them belief that this could be the year they finally crack the playoffs. Wingers Ruan Combrinck and Courtnall Skosan each crossed for tries, as did hooker Malcolm Marx and skipper Warren Whiteley

The Chiefs scored four tries of their own through Damian McKenzie, James Lowe, Tom Sanders and Brad Weber, but will be hugley disappointed having lost their home opener. The bad news didn't stop there, with star second-row forward Brodie Retallick later ruled out for six weeks with a rin injury. 

In an all-South African affair in Bloemfontein, the Stormers handed the Cheetahs their second defeat of the season after claiming a hard-fought 20-10 victory. 

Leolin Zas in action during the Stormers victory over the Cheetahs (image via: GalloImages)

Leolin Zas opened the scoring for the visitors in the 14th minute with his first try of the season, before the Cheetahs hit back with a well-worked try of their own finished off by captain, Francois Venter

With the game all-square just past half-time, the Stormers regained the lead when Sikhumbuzo Notshe crashed over after a sustained spell of Stormers dominance which was aided by Lodewyk de Jager being in the sin-bin after a high tackle. 

Two late penalties from substitute fly-half Kurt Coleman took the Cheetahs out of bonus point range, and confirmed the Stormers second victory of the season. 

The Sharks were the third South African side to keep up their 100% start to the season, after they saw off the Jaguares in a 19-15 win at the Shark Tank

After the Sharks had taken a three-point lead through Joe Pietersen, the Jaguares hit back with the games opening try which was finished off by Emiliano Bofelli following an excellent break from number-eight Leonardo Senatote

It didn't take too long for the Sharks to regain the lead though, with their maul dominance leading to a pushover try which Marcell Coetzee was on the end-off, giving him his second try of the season. 

The sides then traded penalties, before the game sparked to life following a pair of yellow cards. Just like the previous week in their debut win over the Cheetahs, the Argentinian outfit were once more down to 13 men after flankers Rodrigo Baez and Pablo Matera were each given yellow cards for indiscretions close to their line. 

Incredibly though, it was the 13-man Jaguares who scored the games next try to regain the lead. After winning a turnover in their own territory, the Jaguares hoofed the ball up-field, and with nobody at home, speedstar Santiago Cordero was quickest to the loose ball, and dotting down for an incredible score. 

The second half was pretty much all about the Sharks, who despite not being able to cross for a try, added six unanswered points to claim an important victory. 

Brumbies take early control of Australian conference

After two weeks of play, the Brumbies are the only side in the Australasian division to have not suffered defeat. Their 32-15 victory over the Waratahs on Friday evening in Canberra confirmed that they are the team to beat to top the Aussie pool. 

A fast start saw the Brumbies scorch out into an 8-0 lead, thanks to Christain Lealiifano's early try whilst Will Skelton was in the bin for the visitors who were very ill-disciplined early on. 

The Waratahs fought back though, firstly through Israel Folau who brushed off a couple of tackles before reaching over for a try, which was followed by a Kurtley Beale penalty to draw the sides level at half-time.

After the break, the Brumbies outscored their opponents three tries to one, to prevail despite not being at their best. After Joe Tomane had touched down, the Tahs responded quickly with Nick Phipps taking an inside ball from Folau to score for the second week running. 

Following a penalty try which put distance between the sides, the Brumbies finished off the win in the final minute, with an excellent score finished off by Nigel Ah Wong and made by Tomane who threw an incredible assisting pass. 

The other all-Australian affair saw the Force beat a sorry Reds team 22-6 in Queensland. Following a kick-fest by two stuttering sides, the Force added gloss to their victory in the final minute when Luke Morahan crossed for a try to add to the despair of his former side. 

Hat-trick hero Bjorn Basson tackles Adam Thomson of the Rebels (image via: Gallo Images)

The Melbourne Rebels suffered a 45-25 defeat in Pretoria against the Bulls, after Bjorn Basson's hat-trick for the home side. After finding themselves 42-3 down just after the break, the Rebels did however score four-unanswered try to show signs of resillience, which in fact took away the Bulls bonus point after they failed to win by three-clear tries. 

Highlanders claim victory in 2015 final repeat

In a rematch of the 2015 Super Rugby final, the Highlanders got one over on the Hurricanes once more with a 17-16 to kickstart their season. Neither side is playing at the heights of last year yet, but it was a compelling contest in Dunedin nonetheless. 

The home side got the fast start they needed following last weekend's defeat, and they took the lead thanks to a try from centre Malakai Fekitoa, who was put in after excellent play from Lima Sopoaga

Malakai Fekitoa statted in the Highlanders win over the Hurricanes (image via: Getty)

Sopoaga missed the conversion, yet added a pair of penalties before the break to take an 11-6 lead into the sheds, with the Hurricanes six points coming from the boot of Beauden Barrett

After Sopoaga had extended the lead to eight points, the Wellington side got themselves back into the game through their captain TJ Perenara who reached over from a few metres out to bring the sides within a point. 

Five minutes later, the Hurricanes took the lead for the first time in the contest, when Barrett clipped over another penalty after the referee had come back for a long advantage. 

The drama then really picked up in the final ten minutes, with the Highlanders doing all of the attacking in search of the points to turn the game in their favour.

Fekitoa thought he had scored his second try of the contest when he seemed to touch the ball down on the post, only for the TMO to rule that he had failed to do so, instead awarding the Highlanders a scrum five metres out. From the back of that very scrum, the hosts thought they had scored once more when Aaron Smith dived over, only for the ref to rule that Liam Squire's final pass was forward. 

The Hurricanes failed to clear the lines sufficiently, and following an offside call, the Highlanders were awarded a penalty, which substitute Hayden Parker knocked over in what turned out to be the match-winning kick. 

In Christchurch on Friday evening, the Crusaders got their first win of the season, over a sloppy Blues side, by 28 points to 13. 

A penalty try before the break was just reward for their dominance up front, and they added to their big lead with ten minutes left on the clock when Kieran Read scored following an incredible barnstorming run from Nemani Nadolo which took out a number of defenders. 

Tana Umaga's Blues side showed signs of life with Tevita Li's try late on, but it was the Crusaders who ended the scoring when fly-half Richie Mo'unga intercepted Bryn Hall's pass to score under the posts untouched.