Super Rugby AU Round 2 review: 'Super Time' not so super

Round 2 of Super Rugby AU promised exciting rugby with the Western Force returning to the Australian rugby fold after three years in the wilderness, while the Rebels were forced to relocate their home match to Sydney's Northern Beaches.

However, Sydney's wet weather produced a dour spectacle on Friday night that saw the 'Super Time' golden point extra time used for the first time. It was hardly super after it failed to divide the two teams, while the Force couldn't hold back a rampaging Waratahs in their return.

Read on for some of the major talking points from the weekend's action.


Friday night's clash between the Rebels and Reds was hardly a testament to wet weather rugby; it was dour, low scoring and anything but a memorable spectacle. It was perhaps the exact opposite of what Rugby Australia needed to draw the crowds back.

But it's hardly the Rebels or Reds fault. Wet weather rugby forces teams to keep the ball in tight and put boot to ball rather than shifting it through the hands - it's a gameplan for the purists moreso the casual observer.

Despite this, Friday night's clash did produce some enterprising plays.

Reece Hodge's 53rd minute try off the back of some beautiful backline work and Billy Meakes' intercept try in the 67th minute to put the Rebels well ahead, were both equally impressive.

But James O'Conor's 78th minute linebreak was no doubt the highlight of the night. The No. 10 sliced through the defence, offloaded to Chris Feauai-Sautia who kept the ball alive with a cheeky pop pass to Alex Mafi who charged the remaining 25 metres to the line. O'Connor finished his work with the conversion to equal the scores and send the game to 'Super Time'.

It had fans on their feet and cheers rang throughout the small crowd that had endured the rain and error-ridden opening 40 minutes, and they were to be rewarded with an extra 10 minutes of play -- hopefully as exhilarating as the final minutes had been.

That wasn't the case.

Instead, both teams became insular, determined not to lose instead of playing to win. It became a kick-fest, and scrums quickly ate away at the clock. Within two minutes of the restart we saw our first scrum, by the time the ball had left the back of the scrum almost two minutes had been eaten off the clock and only seconds later a dropped ball saw another scrum set.

The clock ticked while forwards meandered, slapped backs and got into position to push again. In four minutes, the ball was in play for less than two. It's a blight on the game that has been discussed endlessly.

By the end of the 10 minute extra time golden point period there had been just one attempt at points -- a 50m penalty attempt from Bryce Hegarty that faded to the right of the posts -- and plenty of kicking from both sides.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Rebels fly-half Matt Toomua said the 'Super Time' period needed to be changed to a first-try scenario in order to eliminate the mindless kicking that dulled Friday's clash.

Toomua, who sits on the law variation panel that is responsible for this season's six trial laws, said penalty goals should not be allowed to determine the winner in extra time. Instead a first-try scenario would force teams to play to win.

"It was a case of no one wanting to lose," Toomua told The Herald. "Because it was too wet for us, if we knocked the ball on they'd get a scrum and probably get a penalty, so we wanted to pressure them with our kicking game."

If 'Super Time' makes another appearance this season let's hope we see something a bit more 'super' than what we witnessed on Friday.


It's a law the players voted to include in Super Rugby AU, and so far it's hardly been put to use.

The 22/50 or 50/22 kicking law, based off the NRL's 40/20 rule that has seen the game open up since the implementation, was introduced to encourage more attacking kicking and create more space in the wider channels.

But in two weeks of rugby, we've hardly seen the new law implemented.

On Friday, we saw endless kicking. Both sides, sending up midfield bombs in the hopes to put their opposition on the backfoot, but not once did we see a 50/22 or 22/50 implemented. It was no doubt, the perfect opportunity to put the new law to good use.

The ground was greasy, the ball was skidding off the deck and it was a night to play the territory game, push your way into the opposition's half and reward yourself with the lineout.

There were similar circumstances on Saturday night when the Waratahs hosted the Western Force in their return to Super Rugby.

The pitch was damp, and both sides were happy to put boot to ball -- Tahs fly-half Will Harrison repeatedly sending the ball to the sky instead of sending it through hands.

It took until Karmichael Hunt's entry off the bench in the 60th minute for the new law finally to be put into play, and the Tahs saw rewards immediately.

Although questions will be asked whether his first 50/22 was the correct call -- Lachie Swinton was tackled over the halfway but placed the ball on the 50m line -- the Tahs were on the front foot, had a dominant lineout and were now in the opposition's red zone. Five phases later Tom Staniforth had edged through and scored under the posts.

Yes, we want to move away from promoting mindless kicking midfield -- the Tahs and Force received boos and a 'stop kicking' call from from the crowd on Saturday night -- but we do want to see exciting enterprising play that can bring a new dynamic to the game.

Last week we saw the Reds benefit from two of their own 50/22 kicks, while Hunt has proven his worth for the Tahs with his two on Saturday night. So why not bring more of it?


In their first Super Rugby game in three years, the Western Force looked destined to pick up where they left off with a win over the Waratahs.

While the fairytale was crushed by 23-unanswered points from the Tahs, the Force showed they won't be easy beats in Super Rugby AU.

Keeping it simple, the Force dominated the Tahs from the opening minutes, heaped on the pressure on the struggling NSW side and were rewarded with 14 points in the opening half.

Jono Lance and Ian Prior proved an experienced pair in the halves, with cool heads and plenty of vision. They decided the tempo of the opening 40 and maneuvered the side across the park.

A workhorse up front, Brynard Stander was the standout for his side, making 24 carriers and clocking 121 run metres. He wasn't the only Force forward who put in the work up front, with flanker Henry Stowers and Tevin Ferris providing muscle up front.

A Tahs try just before the halftime bell clearly saw momentum swing away from the Force as they were forced to chase instead of lead in the second. But they'll take confidence out of their first clash, and plenty of lessons and will be better for it come Round 3.