The second round of the Super 15 competition has ended and whilst one game was not played, sensibly I might add, due to the tragic circumstances in New Zealand, the familiar free-flowing rugby was seen in remainder of the games played last weekend, with some early favourites emerging from the pack.
It is still early days yet, but the NSW Waratahs are looking rather the part this stage of a long 21-week season. They showed their intent last week, running wild on the new boys, the Melbourne Rebels, and again, had a field day with the Queensland Reds in Round 2, running in tries from all over the park.
Kurtley Beale has been to this stage as both a hot and cold prospect at both the Super and International Rugby levels, playing really good one game before being really quiet in the other. He came into the game as the highly recruited 18-year-old fresh out of school phenom.
Well, he has needed some time to 'redshirt' (borrowing an often used American term), and come to grips with the big show mentality of high-level rugby, but I truly believe that 2011 will see him shine. How brightly he does shine will determine how far both the Waratahs and the Wallabies go in their respective competitions
Beale's quick thinking led to the opening try for the Waratah's and he has matured to utilize his free-wheeling play within the structure of team play, which his team mates can then play off and maximize.
The Waratahs completely outplayed the Reds with the same free-flowing game the Reds themselves showed off to great effect in 2010. It was not to say that the game was not only just about attack, as the Waratah defence was unmovable as well, especially from the Captain Phil Waugh and his pack.
Defence won the Melbourne Reds their first game ever as well, against the vaulted ACT Brumbies no less. After their not too impressive debut game, the Rebels showed gutsy, old-school passion and determination in their defence to tame the Brumbies.
Having such a reliable kicker in bad boy Danny Cipriani never hurts if you are the Rebels, and while his off-field conduct down under seems to be a continuation of his ways across the pond, his on-field displays seem to be nothing but world class.
The Brumbies have kind of spluttered in recent seasons, and while it was a little surprising to hear today that ACT Coach Andy Friend has been sacked after only two games, I won't say its not a total shock.
Talking of across the pond, what about across the Tasman? Only two Kiwi teams played in Round 2, with the Chiefs playing the Highlanders away. It was an emotional game, given what the land of the long white cloud has gone through in the last week and what it will need to do to come back in the coming weeks.
The Chiefs were coming off a disappointing performance in Round 1, while the Highlanders were riding high after their nail-bitting win over the Hurricanes the week before. The Chiefs opened the scoring, and looked pretty keen to run the ball where possible. In the end though, just as in Round 1, the Highlanders showed that it never hurts to grind out the game with good forwards, wining the contest at home.
So after 2 Rounds, a flower (the Waratahs) and a Highlander are the first two out of the blocks. You just have to wait and see if they continue on this pace!
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