Super Rugby
Crusaders, Waratahs find form in round two
Andy Withers and Sam Bruce
February 23, 2015
The Chiefs remain unbeaten following a 19-17 win over the Brumbies (Australia only)

NSW Waratahs and the Crusaders have achieved a quick course correction after first-up Super Rugby defeats, the 2014 finalists recording hard-fought victories in round two to get their seasons up and running.

It was never guaranteed, though, with the Highlanders and Rebels pushing their respective conference rivals in two brutal encounters. The Chiefs and Stormers, meanwhile, collected their second victories of the season to remain unbeaten while Queensland Reds put a horror 48 hours behind them with a gritty win over Western Force.

Read on for a full review of round two and watch video highlights of every game below.

Chiefs 19-17 Brumbies

The Chiefs and Brumbies confirmed in the opening match of the round that they are tournament heavyweights likely to be playing deep into the season; this may have even been a precursor of the final. The Brumbies were missing David Pocock, with an ankle injury, and the Chiefs lost Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Cane just before kick-off; the Chiefs also lost Cane's replacxement, Tevita Koloamatangi with an ankle injury, and so the fixture showed the depth of both rosters. Replacement Brumbies flanker Sean Doyle, playing for the first time since returning home from Ireland, will also surely only learn from his lack of discipline at the death that cost the Brumbies victory. The Brumbies otherwise enjoyed a good night having dominated the scrum for 60 minutes, earning them the lion's share of possession, territory and penalties. Nick White maintained he will continue to kick penalties for the corners rather than for goal, despite leaving as many as 12 points on the park, while the Chiefs will surely have to address their tendency to concede penalties.

Rebels 28-38 Waratahs

Rebels 28-38 Waratahs (Australia only)

Welcome back, Waratahs. The reigning champions failed to match their brilliant best of 2014 but they certainly cranked up the physicality that had been noticeable only by its absence in the season-opening defeat by the Force. Not only that, they overcame the loss through injury of the entire tight five in a brutal contest. As the forwards continued to do the hard yards, the backs had room in which to play and Kurtley Beale, in particular, was impish. But Stephen Hoiles said in a radio interview on Saturday that the team would be focused on tightening the defence that had conceded four tries. The Rebels were also good; they certainly did not deserve to lose by 10 points even after looking, perhaps, the most unlikely winners when they had a goal kick with the score locked at 28-all. They were hard at the ball, and better with ball in hand. They are likely to win more than they lose this season.

Bulls 13-17 Hurricanes

Bulls 13-17 Hurricanes (Australia only)

So who tipped the Bulls as tournament smokies, Andy Withers? Their season is almost over after just two weeks, having lost two games at home. Sloppy errors, 19 turnovers and three lost lineouts are elements that describe the Bulls' performance - highlighted by Grant Hattingh unfeasibly touching the sideline as he went for what would've been the match-winning try. The scrum continues to struggle, and Werner Kruger isn't returning to fitness any time soon. Adriaan Strauss, also, is yet to convince he is fully fit. The Canes, meanwhile, head to Perth having swept their South African fixtures in a manner highlighted by toughness and resolve not often associated with the yellow-and black. They look like players in New Zealand.

Highlanders 20-26 Crusaders

Highlanders 20-26 Crusaders (Australia only)

The Crusaders showed the benefit of playing a game, but still they won without convincing. They dominated only the second quarter of the game, when they scored 17 of their 26 points, and otherwise looked a little fragile when the Highlanders' power runners Malakai Fekitoa and Waisake Naholo got up a head of steam. The Crusaders also lost noticeable rhythm once the inevitable replacements were made in the second half. The Highlanders, meanwhile, got more involved in the game the longer it progressed. They looked dangerous on the counter in the first half - scoring a lovely try through Aaron Smith and having another rightly disallowed for a forward pass - both almost immediately after conceding points - but they were off the pace physically and mentally until the second stanza. Ben Smith acknowledged they were rusty in the first 40, and we can expect them to improve second up; they have to, however, given they've been done few, if any, favours by the draw.

Reds 18-6 Force

Reds 18-6 Force (video available only in Australia)

The Force played as if they had not expected the game to kick off after Cyclone Marcia hit Queensland; they figuratively failed to turn up, and they were beaten in all aspects of the game against a Reds team that had faced a week from hell since losing 47-3 to the Brumbies. The Reds missed Karmichael Hunt and James O'Connor from the get-go, while James Slipper and James Horwill went down injured inside 30 minutes, yet Will Genia provided the leadership absent the week before and Queensland got home on the back of a minimal game plan. The Force will be filthy that any momentum gained in Sydney was lost in just one week, while the Reds have some hope that they are competitive in the Australian conference.

Stormers 27-16 0Blues

Stormers 27-16 Blues (Australia only)

The Stormers remain unbeaten this season following a 27-16 win over a 14-man Blues outfit at Newlands on Saturday. Blues lock Hayden Triggs was shown a red card by referee Craig Joubert in the 24th minute, the forward alleged to have punched Stormers skipper Duane Vermeulen in an incident off the ball. It was always going to be difficult for the Blues from there, the Stormers scoring two tries through Nic Groom and Dillyn Leyds while fly-half Demetri Catrakilis kicked 14 points. The Blues finally scored their first try of the season and although the gap was only five points when Jimmy Cowan crossed in 50th minute, the hosts steadied to record their second straight win.

Sharks 29-12 Lions

Sharks 29-12 Lions (Australia only)

The Sharks are back on track after a first-up loss to the Cheetahs, the 2014 semi-finalists picking up a bonus point win at home to the Lions. Springboks back-rower and breakdown workhorse Marcell Coetzee was the star of the show with two tries while playmaker Pat Lambie led his side around superbly as he moved beyond 600 Super Rugby points. Halfback Cobus Reinach and veteran winger Akon Ndungane grabbed the Sharks' other two tries while the Lions' 12 points came from the boot of fly-half Marnitz Boshoff.

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