Super -- Not so Super -- Rugby Pacific R4: We've got to speed up the TMO

There are now just two undefeated teams in Super Rugby Pacific, after the Chiefs rolled the Crusaders in the big upset of Round 4.

The Brumbies' impressive season rolled on in Melbourne, but the Reds had to survive a furious Fijian Drua to keep their perfect record intact.

Elsewhere, there were wins for the Waratahs and Blues, while Moana Pasifika had a third game of the season postponed, this time because of a COVID outbreak at the Hurricanes.

Read on as we reflect on some of the Super -- and Not So Super -- action from Round 4.


Petaia makes promising start at fullback

Thirty minutes into Jordan Petaia's fullback audition and he had plenty of people convinced of his abilities.

With more space and time to read the play, Petaia made more than 100 metres from eight carries, while his try to open the night was superb as he produced an in-and-away to get on the outside of his defender and sprint away to score in the corner.

He produced another stellar run from a standing start, zig-zagging through the defensive line, while a thunderous one-on-one tackle on Onisi Ratave brought the crowd to its feet. With Ratave looking as though he might score, Petaia picked up the Drua winger and drove him into touch.

While he looked dangerous in attack throughout the contest, Petaia's kicking game was hardly tested and the extra aerobic work required at fullback seemed to worry him late in the match.

He kicked the ball just twice, the first, a deep kick going 40m downfield that earned his side a scrum, the second a stab ahead that connected with a boot and went out, neither too encouraging.

Only more time in the No. 15 jersey will give Petaia the chance to improve his kicking game and after his encouraging performance on Saturday night, Brad Thorn needs to keep the excitement machine exactly where he is.

That will certainly make Dave Rennie happy, too.

Slipper, the fly-half in a prop's body

There were some pretty special tries over the weekend, but Brumbies prop James Slipper's assist to Tom Banks on Friday night was perhaps the pick of the litter.

Playing as first receiver, Slipper slowed his movement towards the defensive line, turned slightly to open himself to pop a pass back to scrum-half Lachlan Lonergan, but instead held the ball up, dragging the defenders across, and sent a perfectly timed offload to Banks who came racing through the gap on a 40-metre run to the tryline.

It had fans on their feet, while Stan Sport commentator Drew Mitchell exclaimed "put a 10 on his back".

An honourable mention also has to go to Reds hooker Josh Nasser, who tripped on a blade of grass on his way to the tryline, before fooling the last Drua defender into thinking he'd be sending the offload to his captain.

Drua comeback a sign of things to come?

They may have missed out on the victory, but the Drua's stirring six-minute comeback was a perfect example of the attacking threat the team can pose from anywhere on the paddock.

His team up 28-9 with 17 minutes to play, Reds coach Brad Thorn went to his bench with the game seemingly wrapped up, fly-half James O'Connor among those to be replaced.

But almost immediately the Drua went on a three-try tear to level the scores up at 28 apiece. Fortunately for the Reds, the impressive Seru Uru ensured they came away with the points with a try in the shadows of fulltime.

It is clear however that the Drua are trending in the right direction. Last week's win over the Rebels was a fine launching pad, and while they fell well behind at Suncorp, they will take great confidence from their outstanding comeback moving forward.

Mick Byrne's side will fancy their chances at Leichhardt Oval next week against the Force.

Chiefs sound competition warning with shock Christchurch win

While the Drua were unable to complete their stunning comeback, the Chiefs had no such issue as they handed the Crusaders their first loss of the year on Saturday evening.

While both sides endured a difficult build-up with New Zealand in the midst of a COVID wave, it was the Chiefs who found their rhythm down the stretch with two tries in six minutes -- the second after the siren -- to steal a memorable win at Orangetheory Stadium.

While Shaun Stevenson grabbed two of the Chiefs' tries, and Rameka Poihipi the match-sealing five-pointer, it was the play of Bryn Gatland that drew rave reviews post match.

After he failed to kick the Chiefs to victory a week earlier in Auckland, this was the perfect response from the talented No. 10.


TMO stoppage a cure for insomnia

Five minutes and 42 seconds. That's how long fans at Suncorp Stadium, and those watching on at home, had to twiddle their thumbs as the officials ruled on three separate incidents of foul play at the one time during the Reds' nail-biting win over the Drua.

Three cards, two to the Reds, were handed out following an extended passage of play. First Reds hooker Josh Nasser was marched for a shoulder-to-shoulder, no arms clash. Front-row teammate Harry Hoopert followed for a no-arms, late tackle, which referee Jordan Way deemed a "clear attempt at a shoulder charge". Finally, Drua prop Samuela Tawake was shown yellow for a lifting tackle.

The whole process had fans in the stands booing, while a spot of channel surfing was the order of the day for those at home as the life was sucked out of the game by the lengthy stoppage.

Nasser's card was the most questionable, with the hooker's shoulder making solid contact with Meli Derenalagi's shoulder, while his right arm struggled to wrap with Taniela Tupou also in the tackle. It was at most a penalty.

Clearly rugby is attempting to make a stand against dangerous play, which should be applauded, but the endless TMO referrals and mindless minutes watching slowed-down replays are sending fans packing.

While this was indeed a unique situation with three separate incidents to address, there has got to be a better, or at least faster, way of dealing with TMO referrals.

This is the kind of stoppage that has the younger generations switching off, and rusted-on fans pulling out what little hair they have left already.

In the end, the first half ran close to an hour, which is far too long when you consider it is supposed to be 40 minutes.

Rebels' Wallabies go absent

Four games in and four losses, it's been an abysmal start to the Rebels season and it's not likely to get any better. In fact, it wouldn't be at all shocking if they finished the season winless with the way they've been taking to the field so far this year.

The Rebels held much of the possession and the territory on Friday, especially in the opening minutes, as they constantly took on the Brumbies defensive line, but little was done with it. Fly-half Matt To'omua created little with the ball, and often was too deep giving the defence time to shut any attacking movements down. When they did build any momentum, it was quickly squandered by poor ball handling.

Wallabies backs Andrew Kellaway and Reece Hodge struggled to have any impact on the match, although they rarely saw any clean ball as the Rebels' disjointed attack was easily shut down; but both men failed to bring themselves into the action.

Up front Matt Philip was absent for much of the match. In his 50th Super Rugby game, it was expected the second-rower would step up after three lacklustre performances, but he was easily overshadowed by his 21-year-old Brumbies counterpart Tom Hooper. Hooper made 20 tackles compared to Philip's four, while in Hooper's first start he doubled Philip's run metres. The four penalties next to Philip's name and a missed cue at a baulked lineout will also go down as strikes on a poor night out.

In a match that had little to be happy about, Carter Gordon's return to fly-half off the bench proved the young player needs to be the Rebels starting 10 for the remainder of the season. While To'omua and the backline produced nothing in the first half, Gordon's move to 10 with To'omua pushed to centre at least gave the backline some direction, and was quickly rewarded with a Richard Hardwick try.


"Everyone has to take responsibility. It was a pretty average 60 minutes. We misfired. We had no energy or enthusiasm. It was all our own doing, ill-discipline, set-piece, missed kicks to touch, not exiting our own half, simple execution and fundamentals let us down."

- Western Force coach Tim Sampson after his side's dispirited loss to the Waratahs