The Highlanders have finished 2014 after narrowly losing to the Sharks in Durban, but they finished sixth, making the playoffs for the first time since 2002, with a squad with only a few big names and were third in the New Zealand conference.
How did you rate the Highlanders in Super Rugby 2014?
I expected them to finish at the bottom of the New Zealand in 2014 and so, they actually performed above expectations. This squad was supposed to struggle with only Aaron and Ben Smith expected to bring some excitement to this team, but boy was I wrong.
The Highlanders often struggle to score tries, but in 2014 under the new coaching staff including Tony Brown, Jon Preston and Scott McLeod along with Jamie Joseph they managed to unlock defences. I think that Tony Brown especially got the best out of the Highlanders backline, with previously underrated players like Richard Buckman, Phil Burleigh, Lima Sopoaga and Patrick Osborne excelling, while Malakai Fekitoa, Ben Smith and Aaron Smith were the Highlanders best backs in the season. The forwards were also previously underrated with Joe Wheeler, Nasi Manu, Shane Christie, Ma’afu Fia, Chris King, Liam Coltman and Elliot Dixon enjoying some great form during Super Rugby 2014. Continue reading
The Super Rugby Semi Finalists have been found after two nail-biting wins for the Brumbies and Sharks over their New Zealand opponents. The Brumbies 32 – 30 win over the Chiefs and Sharks 31 -27 win over the Highlanders were as exciting as the scorelines suggest. The home teams were favourites going into these matches, but it didn’t stop the Chiefs and Highlanders putting up a brave fight, with both matches being closer than expected.
The Brumbies were surprisingly expansive and in many ways played the Chiefs out of the game in the opening half thanks to some great play from Henry Speight who ironically has Waikato connections, Nick White and Jesse Mogg were also elusive. Backs coach Stephen Larkham has really got this Brumbies team attacking nicely.
But the Chiefs managed to hang tough and almost overturn a huge deficit. Gareth Anscombe scored a try in the corner at the end of the game, but unfortunately Aaron Cruden couldn’t convert from the sideline. The Brumbies probably deserved to win, but the Chiefs were brave in defeat. The Australian teams have improved in the last season and the Chiefs have potentially lost that deadly ability to win their playoff games.
The Super 15 Rugby 2014 has reached the knockout stages. Since all teams have played 16 games, now is the time to do some analysis. Statistics from fantasy rugby website www.testrugby.com reveal who the statistical leaders are in different categories including overall points leader, top try scorer, most tackles, go-forwards, line-outs and best goal kickers. These statistics are all based on the definitions found at http://www.testrugby.com/Scoring-Points/6393/
What has been amazing is the new faces like Nemani Nadolo and Malakai Fekitoa doing extremely well, while the Waratahs on-field dominance has also showed with players like Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Michael Hooper and Israel Folau scoring heavily in Super Rugby 2014. It is also great to see some familiar faces like Colin Slade, Beauden Barrett and Warren Whiteley scoring heavily.
Which players have impressed you in Super Rugby 2014?
Best Overall Statistical Points Leaders in Super Rugby 2014
Rank Player Name Pos Team Games Total Avg Price
1 Bernard Foley HV WAR 16 4940 309 $1,070,000 BUY Continue reading