Super Rugby: Round Four Winners and Losers
Week four was full of upsets.
The Hurricanes beat the rolling Crusaders, the Blues stole a last-gasp victory against the Lions and the Jaguares outclassed the Waratahs.
Unpredictable results like this are great for Super Rugby (but terrible for anyone having a punt).
Parity should be a goal for any competitive/professional sports league, and though it realistically may never be achieved, this weekend provided a little bit of hope and reminded us that on any given day, no team is unbeatable.
Loser: The Lions
After racing out to a 14-0 lead against the Blues in just 16 minutes, it looked like the Lions were going to cruise to their fourth straight victory to open the season.
The Blues looked to be down and out, facing an 11-point deficit with just eight minutes remaining.
Spirited attacking play from the Blues saw the Lions crumble and leak two tries inside the last three minutes, letting the game slip out of their hands and blemishing their perfect record.
Winner: Fast Starts
Teams getting off to a fast start was a theme in week four.
It was the Hurricanes that started the trend in the weekend's opening fixture. Tries to Chris Eves, Thomas Perenara and Ben Lam saw Chris Boyd's side get out to what proved to be an insurmountable 21-0 lead over the table-topping Crusaders after just 23 minutes.
In Johannesburg, it took Lions wing Sylvian Mahuza just one minute to pick up his third try of the season after a quick tap.
But it was the Jaguares did it better than anyone else. The Argentinian franchise needed just 16 seconds to get a try on the board against the Waratahs. After ten minutes, wing Emiliano Boffelli had a double, and just another eight minutes later it was 26-0 after four unanswered tries.
Loser: Australia's top dogs
The Waratahs are in a serious funk. The Brumbies are even worse.
Australia's most recent conference champions have been close to unwatchable across their first three fixtures, and Daryl Gibson's Waratahs – who, thanks to the return of Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale, looked poised to reclaim their spot atop the Australian conference – have struggled mightily, already falling nine competition points behind the Rebels.
Luckily for these two, they'll only face two New Zealand sides each during the regular season, and it won't be for a while.
The Brumbies will face the Crusaders in Round 11 and the Hurricanes in Round 17, while the Waratahs will see the Blues in Round 12 and the Highlanders in Round 14.
Winner: Akira Ioane
The 22-year-old looked like a man among boys in his Man of the Match performance at Ellis Park.
Ioane shrugged off ten would-be tacklers on his way to 75 running metres, a try and the Blues' first win of the season.
Ioane is tied for the competition lead in tries scored with four and has been a standout for Tana Umaga’s Auckland side across their first three fixtures.
At this rate he will be hard to keep out of the black jersey when it comes time for the All Blacks to take on France in June.