With the Four Nations simmering just around the corner, the southern hemisphere is soon to put on a sample of what promises to be some of the most physical in modern rugby.
For now, however, it’s the latter stages of Super XV rugby and Super League that’s giving us our weekly fix of hard knocks.
This week, it’s a couple of bruising hits from the semi-finals of the Super XV tournament, last weekend’s Super League action as well as a slightly less familiar match which offer up the best boshes from around the globe.
Champagne rugby can sometimes be hard to come by, but one thing we can be assured of is that the head-to-head confrontations will keep a-coming.
The first time in more than 10 outings that a New Zealand franchise has lost at home in the semi-final stage of a Super Rugby season, Crusaders came mightily close in their semi-final loss to Chiefs this weekend.
A battle which wasn’t quite as close, though, was the individual fracas between Ryan Crotty and Charlie Ngatai, where it was undoubtedly the former who came off second-best.
Setting the tone for the great majority of the game, the Crusaders’ Crotty attempted to clear his lines just 14 minutes into the fixture, but was soundly denied by his Waikato counterpart.
It’s not just the fact that the Chiefs’ wrecking stood up to his opposite number, but the slap-in-the-face manner in which he went about it that leaves an image in the mind.
It’s no wonder the Bulls didn’t quite make their way to this season’s Super XV final when one considers the victor in the props battle this past weekend.
The Brumbies travelled to Pretoria not quite knowing what to expect of their chances, but Scott Sio put some of his teammates’ minds at ease with a splintering hit on Bulls tighthead, Werner Kruger.
Just as it looked as if the South African might offer his side a platform to score, Sio came in from the side to reject any such appeals, showing his opposite man just how the rest of that particular semi-final was about to play out.
As a result, the Bulls were ousted from their short-range position and weren’t able to make anything of the opportunity.
Scott Sio—job done.
Beating one man? Great. Beating multiple opponents? All the better.
Hailing from Samoa and weighing in at almost 18 stone, Ali Lauitiiti isn’t the first man you’d hope to have running at you with your back to the whitewash.
That was the thought running through the heads of not just one, but three Leeds Rhinos defenders last week as the former Leeds giant was allowed to crash over for a Wakefield score.
The try was so impactful, in fact, that Lauitiiti’s shorts couldn’t help but try to get away from the collision, but to little avail.
Although scoring tries is the aim of the game, a supporter can sometimes get just as much satisfaction from that one perfectly timed hit.
That will have been the reaction when Gareth O’Brien stepped out of his line expertly to dash the hopes of young Ryan Hampshire, nailing the Wigan Warrior before he even had a chance to realise he was in possession of the ball.
Poor Hampshire is only 18 years of age and stepped into the Wigan side as Shaun Wane rested a couple of faces last weekend, but he’s sure to be aware that he’s in the big boys’ game now.
Although he might play outside of the regular rugby confines, Hit of the Week goes to Aussie Rules’ Tom Jonas of Port Adelaide, after the 22-year-old right near ended Dylan Robertson’s night awfully early.
While it might be nominated for all the wrong reasons, the “tackle” suffered by Robertson is nonetheless an almighty knock courtesy of Jonas, which understandably left the St. Kilda player a little befuddled.
Rightly so, the Herald Sun have since reported that Jonas will see a three-game suspension for the gruesome blow.