Vodafone Super Rugby wrap: Chiefs shock Crusaders, Lions dominate Stormers

Super Rugby
by RUGBY.com.au staff

This year's Super Rugby finals are looking a little clearer after a big weekend of action.

Catch up with all the highlights and match reports here.

BLUES vs BULLS


Struggling five-eighth Harry Plummer missed a last-minute penalty attempt as the Blues were held to a nerve-jangling draw by an undermanned Bulls side at Eden Park on Friday.

The result all but ends the Blues' faint hopes of a spot in the top-eight play-offs with two rounds left after the weekend.

The Bulls, missing Duane Vermeulen and Handre Pollard, were dragged back into the game by five-eighth Manie Libbok who grabbed their third try with five minutes left and converted it to level the scores.

The Bulls, who are provisionally fifth overall kept their play-offs hopes alive as they leapfrogged the Sharks into second place in the South African conference with 34 points, two points behind the leading Jaguares.

The Blues are fourth in the New Zealand conference, and 11th overall, on 28 points.

"We were our own undoing," lamented Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu.

"There was bad execution at times and that cost us."

Bulls skipper Burger Odendaal was content with the two competition points given they could have lost at the death.

"We're basically happy with a draw," he said.

RESULT

Blues 22

Tries: Ioane, Scrafton, Tuungafasi

Cons: Plummer 2

Pens: Plummer

Bulls 22             

Tries: Liebenberg, Hendricks, Libbok

Cons: Libbok 2

Pens: Libbok

REBELS vs WARATAHS


Rebels coach Dave Wessels has described a controversial Curtis Rona no-arms tackle that stopped Marika Koroibete in open space just short of the try line as a "game-changer" in a 20-15 loss to the Waratahs.

Handling errors and ill-discipline hurt the Rebels, who trailed by 10 points at half-time, while the Waratahs were able to unleash their experienced backline at crucial times to keep the hosts at arm’s length.

The Rebels were never able to peg the Waratahs back after finding themselves in that hole, leaving them stuck in second place in the Australian conference with a trip to Christchurch and a final round clash with the Chiefs to come.

Melbourne will pick up a losing bonus point from that loss, keeping them four points ahead of the Waratahs in the Australian conference.

NSW’s finals hopes, on the other hand, remain ever so faintly alive after that victory, keeping them within a win of leaping into the top eight.

Read full match report here.

RESULT

Rebels 15

Tries: Cooper, Genia

Cons: Cooper

Pens: Cooper

Waratahs 20

Tries: Ashley-Cooper, Rona

Cons: Foley

Pens: Foley 3

SUNWOLVES vs BRUMBIES


The Brumbies have taken a giant stride towards winning the Australian conference title by beating the Sunwolves with a bonus-point 42-19 win in Tokyo.

Reserve hooker Connal McInerney bagged a rare hat-trick coming off the bench in the second half to extend a 21-12 lead at oranges and put the result beyond doubt.

The Sunwolves never gave up and kept fighting through the elusive running of electric fullback Semisi Masiwera, but armed with a dominant set-piece, the Brumbies never allowed the game to get out of their control.

The win sees the Brumbies push five points ahead of the Rebels, with NSW and the Reds left to play. The Rebels have the Crusaders and the Highlanders.

On a hot day, poor discipline from the Sunwolves allowed the Brumbies to keep kicking into the corner, setting their maul strongly and sending McInerney over the line.

Read full match report here.

RESULT

Brumbies 42

Tries: McInerney 3, Samu, Simone, Banks.

Cons: Lealiifano 6

Sunwolves 19

Tries: Masiwera, Booth Saumaki

Cons: Parker 2

CHIEFS vs CRUSADERS


The battling Chiefs rallied from 20-0 down after 20 minutes to beat the reigning champion Crusaders 40-27 in a 10-try Super Rugby derby in Fiji which just keeps their play-off hopes alive.

The Crusaders made a quick start at the National Stadium on Saturday, scoring tries through Scott Barrett, Mitchell Drummond and Fiji-born Sevu Reece to open a 20-0 lead in even time.

But the match turned from the half hour point as the Chiefs scored three tries in nine minutes - through Solomon Alaimalu, Samisoni Taukei'aho and Jesse Parete - to make the score 20-19 after a six-try first half.

The Crusaders scored through winger Braydon Ennor to expand their lead to 27-19 at the start of the second half but the Chiefs hit back again with a try to live-wire halfback Brad Weber to restore a one-point margin.

The Chiefs finally hit the front in the 66th minute when winger Shaun Stevenson broke the line and touched down under the posts, with Jack Debreczeni's conversion gave the Chiefs their first lead at 33-27.

Replacement Tumua Manu then pounced on a short 22 restart in the 78th minute to score the try which sealed the Chiefs' win and denied the Crusaders a bonus point.

RESULT

Chiefs 40

Tries: Alaimalo, Taukei'aho, Parete, Weber, Stevenson, Manu

Cons: Debreczeni 5

Crusaders 27

Tries: Barrett, Drummond, Reece, Ennor

Cons: Mo'unga 2

Pens: Mo'unga

REDS vs JAGUARES


Brad Thorn has hit back at recent arguments the Jaguares do not deserve a place in Super Rugby, saying he wants his players to embrace the challenge of Test-level football and have a burning desire to beat the best.

The Reds lost 34-23 to the Argentinian side despite being in the battle for most of the match.

While they had their chances to win the game in the dying stages, the reality is the Reds do not yet have the consistency or variety in their game - collectively and on the whole as individuals - to be able to match it with the likes of the Jaguares.

The Argentinians have copped flak in some quarters for being a virtual national team in disguise, with many questioning their place in a provincial competition.

But Thorn was adamant they deserved a place and would raise the standard of his players.

"There's a lot of Test players, but good, bring it on, let's have a Test match," he said.

"It's a good competition, they can bring some Test players off the bench and we embrace that.

"Yeah, it had an impact on the game but I like my guys mixing with that. Taste it, embrace it, learn from it and get better from it."

Read full match report here.

RESULT

Tries: Carreras 2, Ezcurra, Montoya, Kremer

Cons:  Diaz Bonilla 3

Pens: Diaz Bonilla

Reds 23

Tries: Feauai-Sautia, Campbell

Cons: Hegarty 2

Pens: Hegarty 3

SHARKS vs HURRICANES


Beauden Barrett returned for his first game in more than three weeks to help keep the Wellington Hurricanes on course for Super Rugby's post-season playoffs as they beat the Sharks 30-17 away at King's Park on Saturday.

Barrett was rested for the Hurricane's last game a fortnight ago, when they were upset at home by the Jaguares, but World Rugby's Player of the Year emphasised the importance of his contribution as he lead the team back to second place in the Super Rugby points table, kicking 15 points.

His influence was almost immediate as he jinked his way through the home defence to set up brother Jordie for the first try after six minutes.

His conversion was followed by two penalties as the Hurricanes, who had a bye last weekend, opened up a 10-point lead and then extended it to 20-3 with a converted try from Ngani Laumape, whose strength allowed him to stretch out for the line as he powered through several tackles.

RESULT

Sharks 17

Tries: Fassi, Schoeman

Cons: Bosch 2

Pens: Bosch

Hurricanes 30

Tries: J Barrett, Laumape, Goosen

Cons: B Barrett

Pens: B Barrett 3

LIONS vs STORMERS


Kwagga Smith scored two tries and Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Aphiwe Dyantyi and Hacjivah Dayimani all also went over as the Lions moved into a Super Rugby playoff place with a much-needed bonus-point home win over the Stormers at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Johan du Toit, Herschel Jantjies and Joshua Stander replied for the visitors from Cape Town, whose own playoff hopes are now in peril.

The Lions, who dropped Springbok pivot Elton Jantjies for disciplinary reasons, had a narrow 13-10 lead at half-time but two quick tries after the break effectively broke the Stormers' resistance.

It was the first win in five attempts this season for the Lions over fellow South African opposition.

RESULT

Lions 41

Tries: Smith 2, Coetzee, Skosan, Dyantyi, Dayimani

Cons: Reynolds 4

Pens: Reynolds

Stormers 22

Tries: du Toit, jantjies, Stander

Cons: Stander 2

Pens: Stander