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Australia's Super Rugby woes continue

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/03/2017 Darren Walton
Lopeti Timani of the Rebels passes the ball, during the Round 15 Super Rugby match between the Melbourne Rebels and the Stormers at AAMI Park in Melbourne. © AAP Image/Joe Castro Lopeti Timani of the Rebels passes the ball, during the Round 15 Super Rugby match between the Melbourne Rebels and the Stormers at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

Two rounds in and already Australia's Super Rugby teams are again shaping as the competition's travelling bunnies.

After managing just five wins from 22 matches on the road last season - and none in New Zealand - Australia's away woes have continued in 2017.

In a worrying trend, the Brumbies, NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels, Australia's top three performers in 2016, all lost to international rivals at the weekend.

But defeats are not the only concerns as Australia's ponderous attacking units struggle to match the pace, silky skills and high-octane rugby being produced by their New Zealand and South African counterparts.

The sorry numbers and depleted talent pool as stars chase overseas riches in Europe and Japan will undoubtedly prompt further debate and discussion around Australia's ability to sustain five teams in the competition when SANZAR chiefs meet in London this week.

The Brumbies' 27-22 home loss to Sharks, after a 17-13 defeat to the Crusaders in Christchurch, left Australia's 2016 conference champions without a win ahead of Friday night's derby with the Western Force in Canberra.

"We just need to be more disciplined," Brumbies captain Sam Carter said after five penalty goals from Sharks sharpshooter Pat Lambie brought his side undone.

The Waratahs also paid the price for ill-discipline, with winger Reece Robinson and prop Sekope Kepu both yellow carded in a 55-36 loss to the Lions in Johannesburg.

The Tahs were caned in the penalty count, with the free-running Lions cashing in to pile on eight tries in an ominous bonus-point victory for last year's runners-up.

The Rebels have a much-needed bye in round three and face a fortnight of soul-searching after following up a 50-point hammering from the Blues with a 71-6 capitulation at the hands of the defending champion Hurricanes.

Already Australian teams are one from six in non-derby fixtures - and none from three on foreign soil.

The Force are yet to face international opposition and will travel to the national capital as surprise early Australian conference leaders following a 26-19 triumph over the Queensland Reds.

The Waratahs face another tough road test against the Sharks in Durban next Sunday before returning home to host the Brumbies in a key conference battle in round four.

It doesn't get any easier for the Reds either as they entertain the Crusaders in Brisbane on Saturday night before venturing to Johannesburg to tackle the Lions.

While the Australian challenge has yet to materialise, the competition table looks as it finished in 2016 with the Hurricanes top ahead of fellow undefeated rivals the Lions and Stormers.

The Chiefs, Crusaders and Cheetahs are also yet to lose.

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