The Crusaders extended their lead at the top of the Super Rugby log with a huge win over their 2018 grand final opponents the Lions.
While that result might have been expected, the rest of the weekend threw up a few more surprises.
CRUSADERS vs LIONS
Sevu Reece crossed for two tries and set up another for Braydon Ennor as the Crusaders sent a chilling message to their Super Rugby rivals with a convincing 36-10 victory over South Africa's Lions in Christchurch on Friday.
Reece was a late call-up by the Crusaders after he had a contract in Ireland cancelled due to a court appearance for assaulting his girlfriend. He has taken his second chance at a professional career with both hands.
George Bridge also scored two tries within the space of two second half-minutes while Richie Mo'unga celebrated his 50th appearance and a new three-year contract with 11 points for the nine-times champions.
Ruan Combrinck scored an intercept try for the visitors, who had lost to the Crusaders in both of the last two finals and while they caused some issues at the scrum, they were rarely able to put sustained pressure on the home side.
Tries: Reece 2, Bridge 2, Ennor
Cons: Mounga 4
SUNWOLVES vs HIGHLANDERS
Tevita Li scored two tries as he capitalised on the dominance of a Highlanders' pack led by a rampaging Jackson Hemopo to help the visitors to a commanding 52-0 Super Rugby victory over the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Friday.
The visiting team's forwards obliterated the Sunwolves' scrum at will, even after they had replaced their entire front row, and dominated the contact area to force errors before moving back into play-off contention in fifth place overall on 23 points.
The Highlanders, who are third in the New Zealand conference behind the Crusaders and Hurricanes, scored five tries in the first half from Tom Franklin, Tyrel Lomax, Li, Josh Ioane and Liam Coltman to give them a massive 33-0 lead at the break.
Li grabbed his second try about 10 minutes into the second half before Rob Thompson and Sio Tomkinson also crossed, while the home side were unlucky to have a Semisi Masirewa try ruled out for a forward pass.
Tries: Li 2, Franklin, Lomax, Ioane, Coltman, Thompson, Tomkinson
Cons: Ioane 5, Gatland
HURRICANES vs CHIEFS
Jordie Barrett reminded All Blacks coach Steve Hansen of his World Cup aspirations as he scored two early tries to help the Hurricanes beat the Chiefs 47-19 in Super Rugby on Saturday.
Hansen is looking at the makeup of his back three for the tournament in Japan after utility back Damian McKenzie ruptured a knee ligament and was ruled out for the rest of the year.
Barrett, who has played fullback and on the wing for the All Blacks, reminded Hansen of his own credentials in the No.15 jersey in his first appearance there for the Hurricanes since week two.
He then finished the game in the midfield, where he has played twice this season.
Kane Leaupepe, TJ Perenara, Wes Goosen, Ardie Savea and debutant Salesi Rayasi also crossed for the home side, who moved to 32 points and consolidated their hold on second place in the New Zealand conference behind the Canterbury Crusaders (39).
Tries: J Barrett 2, Leaupepe, Perenara, Goosen, Savea, Rayasi
Cons: B Barrett 6
Tries: Jacobson, Moeakiola, Boshier
Cons: McKenzie 2
WARATAHS vs SHARKS
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson admits their season is at a "critical juncture" after ill-discipline unravelled their hopes of a win in a 23-15 loss to the Sharks.
A red and a yellow card in the space of five minutes put the Waratahs a man down for 35 minutes of the clash and down to just 13 men for 10 minutes in a disastrous series of events for NSW in front of 10,605 at Bankwest Stadium.
The result, their first loss to the Sharks in Sydney since 2000 - leaves them four points adrift of the Rebels in the Australian conference and at risk of slipping down the order with the Brumbies still to play the Jaguares this weekend.
Away matches against the Bulls and the Lions loom and Gibson was open about the precarious nature of their season with seven rounds to go.
"It's certainly at a critical juncture," he said.
"The season's thrown a lot at us and it's going to require us to show a great deal of resilience. We've got a two-week tour now and it's very clear what we need to do and get from that tour. That's very clear."
Tries: Gordon, Foley
Tries: D Du Preez, Esterhuizen
Cons: Bosch 2
Pens: Bosch 3
STORMERS vs BULLS
The Stormers breathed new life into their ailing Super Rugby campaign with a 24-23 victory over the Bulls in a fierce South African derby at Newlands on Saturday.
The Cape Town-based side had suffered four defeats in their previous five games, and lost 40-3 to the Bulls in Pretoria on the opening weekend of the Super Rugby season, but showed improved application and continuity to claim a deserved win.
Their tries were scored by wings Sergeal Petersen and Seabelo Senatla, while scrum-half Herschel Jantjies did his Springbok chances no harm with a lively performance that was capped with a third try for the home side.
The Bulls overcame a poor start to stay in the contest, and grabbed a losing bonus-point when replacement Manie Libbok crossed for a converted try in the final play of the game. Scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl managed their other score.
"It has been a tough couple of weeks, we kept on coming off the field and saying, 'we could have won that'. Today we said it doesn't matter how it comes, we just want to win," Stormers captain Siya Kolisi said.
Tries: Petersen, Senatla, Jantjies
Cons: du Plessis 2, Stander
Tries: van Zyl, Libbok
Cons: Pollard 2
Pens: Pollard 3
JAGUARES vs BRUMBIES
The Brumbies will have to settle for a 50-50 record from their overseas tour after a 20-15 loss to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.
"Trailing by two points at the break, the Brumbies were forced to play much of the second 40 in their own half, unable to add to their scoreline.
Mistakes marred their rare attempts to attack and ill-discipline at key moments opened the door for the Jaguares to mount pressure.
"It was a victory that both sides were desperate to clinch with their conference fates in the balance and the Brumbies had plenty of confidence after a win over the Stormers.
"While the Brumbies were tenacious in defence, the Jaguares' territory game meant the visitors were often on the back foot, largely off the back of some classy kicking from Argentinian youngster Domingo Miotti.
Tries: Cancelliere, Orlando, Creevy
Yellow Card: Kremer
Tries: Faingaa, Banks