Super Rugby Review – Highlanders vs ChiefsAuthor: Nick | Filed under: Match Previews, Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 – 41 Chiefs
The first New Zealand derby did not disappoint; unless you were one of the many managers who didn’t have Tim Nanai-Williams in your team. The two Kiwi franchises dished out the entertainment aplenty as the lead changed several times during the match but as predicted the Chiefs were too strong for the Highlanders in the end, despite all the big pre-match talk coming out of Otago! The Highlanders were expected to put up a fight and they really did despite the final scoreline. The home side were leading with just 20 minutes to go before the men from Waikato upped the ante and ran away with the ball game.
Fantasy Winner and Losers
The big fantasy winners were Tim Nanai Williams with his brace of tries and Gareth Anscombe who kicked 21 points (5 penalties and 3 conversions). We noted in our match preview that Anscombe is a bargain at 9 million and he sure is. Having a player taking all the kicks in a top side usually costs at least 11 million; if you want him buy early because his price will surely go up. All the Chiefs that played got handy away-win points with both wingers Pat Osborne and Asaeli Tikoirotuma grabbing tries.
Aaron Cruden had an excellent game for the Chiefs but now that he’s not taking the kicks he’d have to score a try (or 2 assists) every week to justify his hefty price tag. Owning Cruden would also limit you to kickers who aren’t listed at flyhalf, like James O’Connor, Mike Harris and sometimes Nic White. Keep an eye out next week for our article on kicking options this season.
If you had 3 Highlanders in your team this week you clearly didn’t look at the schedule. A bye (Round 1), followed by a home game against the defending champions (Round 2) followed by another bye (Round 3). Highlanders players were always a risk, with the exception of Hosea Gear who had scored 5 tries in 3 warmup games and was our red hot favourite to get over the line. Fortunately, managers with any of the Highlanders back three would’ve been pleased as Ben Smith, Kade Poki and the captain Gear all scored tries with Smith managing an impressive 3 linebreaks! The Highlanders ran more metres than any other team last season, by far, but the fixtures are against them for the moment, come Round 4 they’ll be back on the shopping list.
The Highlanders get a week off to fill the papers with some more fighting talk. The Chiefs welcome the Cheetahs who need to get through some tough early season fixtures and travel.