Analysis - It's hard to know where to start with this weekend's wrap of Super Rugby Pacific, but the Queensland Reds' unbelievable try on Friday night in Dunedin is a pretty good place. These days, just how good a sports highlight is can be judged on how quickly it's spread around the world via social media. So, the fact that the 95-metre team effort finished by Jake Upfield had attracted the attention of the UK media before the first half had even finished is a fair indication that it may well be the try of the season.

Started by bruising number eight Harry Wilson, who gunned it to halfway before finding James O'Connor, who somehow stayed infield before popping a miracle offload that was picked up by Tate McDermott. The Reds halfback threw a flick pass of his own, two more sets of hands and the unheralded Upfield (who had just come on as a replacement for Liam Wright) dived over in front of a stunned Forsyth Barr Stadium crowd.

Far less impressive but equally stunning is that none of the officials saw Freddie Burns' shoulder connecting with O'Connor's head as the Reds veteran made his pass. It happened on the touchline in front of the linesman and there were copious replays of it for the TMO to see, so really there are no excuses for what should have at least been a yellow card.

Then, even more egregiously, Shannon Frizell somehow got away scot-free with a shoulder to the head of Reds lock Connor Vest. Again, not really on the ref to pick it up in the heat of the moment, but Vest was down injured for far too long for the TMO not to at least investigate as to why. The Reds lock eventually left the field under his own steam, but a further CT scan revealed a fracture of his C7 vertebrae.

For those unfamiliar with medical terminology, that means Frizell's shot broke Vest's neck.

It didn't stop there, though. In Saturday night's match between the Brumbies and Chiefs, Brodie Retallick went down clutching his face and seemed in obvious discomfort after eating Allan Alaalatoa's shoulder in the first half. This time the refs can't be faulted for not punishing the offender, with the Brumbies skipper binned for further review, but Retallick stayed on the field despite clearly appearing to have suffered a head injury bad enough to require medical attention.

Where was the HIA and what's it going to take for this massive issue in the game to be taken seriously?

Other observations from the weekend:

  • While the Reds scored that brilliant try and played very well, it was fitting that Aaron Smith's last ever home game for the Highlanders ended in victory. It was fitting too that the man who will replace him, Folau Fakatava, scored the winning try.
  • Mark Telea is insanely good and if he's not one of the first names in the All Black top XV this season, someone has rocks in their head. His four tries against the Hurricanes showcased every facet of his well-rounded game in this order: power, pace, footwork and unbelievable handling. The fact that he doesn't even need to be given a good pass to make something happen is putting him head and shoulders above anyone else right now.
  • But there's a developing story inside him as well. Bryce Heem is making an unlikely tilt at an All Black call-up at age 34, playing some of the best rugby of his career and setting up Rieko Ioane's try last night by bulldozing through the highly rated Cam Roigard. He wasn't done with that, putting in a beautiful kick to set up Telea's fourth.
  • The Drua and Moana Pasifika combined for a ridiculous defence-optional score line of 47-46 to the Fijians, after a week dominated by the news that Levi Aumua is on the move to the Crusaders next year. Aumua's path to what may well be an All Black jersey has raised some question marks over what Moana Pasifika is set up to do, but it's worth noting that the Drua are very much in the same boat when it comes to having their players picked off. It will be interesting to see how long the Drua are able to keep the likes of hat trick hero Iosefo 'The Sledgehammer' Masi on their books.
  • Why is the Rebels v the Force not marketed as a Star Wars themed game? Someone is missing a trick here.
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2023-05-28T01:40:46Z dg43tfdfdgfd