Super Rugby round four is all wrapped up and there were plenty of enthralling moments.
The Cruaders and Stormers continued their strong starts to the season while the Brumbies surprised a few critics with a win across the ditch.
CRUSADERS vs HIGHLANDERS
Defending champions the Crusaders beat South Island rivals the Highlanders 33-13 in Super Rugby on Friday, but again produced a performance well below their best.
Now 3 and 1 before their first bye of the season, the Crusaders scored four tries to lead 26-8 at halftime, then managed only a try apiece with the based Highlanders in a less dominant second half performance.
The Crusaders' first half tries were mainly opportunist or against the run of play.
They were stronger than the Highlanders at set pieces but exerted no control over the match and were frequently stretched in defence.
"The 'Landers are a quality side and we had to keep them out in that last 20 minutes," Crusaders captain David Havili said.
"We talked about getting our rhythm right this weekend and we got a wee bit of that throughout the game and I felt we nailed it at stages."
The Crusaders produced moments of exceptional rugby from players such as winger George Bridge plus the midfield of Braydon Ennor and Jack Goodhue.
But they again fell short of a complete performance by bombing several try-scoring opportunities.
Tries: Taylor, Christie, Ennor, Bridge, Havili
Cons: Havili 3, Drummond
Tries: Collins, Nareki
REBELS vs SHARKS
Rebels coach Dave Wessels was left frustrated by his team's inability to win big moments in a 36-24 loss to the Sharks on Saturday.
The Rebels came into the match undermanned, missing Wallabies Matt To’omua and Reece hodge, and their backline was dealt another blow with the late withdrawal of Campbell Magnay from the starting side.
Tom English was elevated to no. 13 to face the Sharks with Theo Strang on the pine, while Cabous Elouff came into the 23 for reserve tighthead prop Ruan Smith.
To’omua’s replacement Andrew Deegan did his reputation no harm with a solid performance but it seemed wherever the Rebels were serviceable, the Sharks just edged them.
Tries: Koroibete, Naisarani, Rangi
Cons: Deegan 3
Tries: Mapimpi 2, Esterhuizen, Tambwe, Bosch
Cons: Bosch 4
Yellow Card: Van Vuuren, Tambwe
CHIEFS vs BRUMBIES
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar says he hopes his side can continue "bucking the trends" after taking a 26-14 win over the Chiefs on Saturday night.
Saturday's victory was their first in New Zealand since 2014 and first over the Chiefs in Hamilton since 2007.
Looking more broadly, the clash was also the first Australian win over foreign opponents in Super Rugby this year, with the Reds yet to play the Sunwolves at the time of writing.
McKellar said he hoped their win could help breed some positivity around the game and silence some critics.
"Over the last two years, I've spoken to the group about bucking the trends and creating some positivity so that people are talking about good things in rugby union and not the negative things," he said.
Tries: Cruden, Lienert-Brown
Cons: McKenzie 2
Tries: Samu 2, Banks, Kata
Cons: Lolesio 2
REDS vs SUNWOLVES
Brad Thorn believes the Reds have the genesis of a great side in the next few years - but he's not giving up on his very good side producing something special this year either.
Queensland righted their Super Rugby campaign with a record 64-5 win against the Sunwolves, scoring 10 tries to notch a confidence-bolstering victory that will restore faith their can claw their way to a first finals campaign since 2013.
Thorn was not getting carried away with a performance that came against a side that will not be in the competition next season.
But in an attractive win that will bolster what was an already decent first home-game crowd of 11,798, the Reds showed they are ready to turn potential into performance.
Tries: McDermott 2, Wright, Tupou, Paisami, Salakaia-Loto, O'Connor, Stewart, Nasser, Lucas
Cons: Campbell 6, Hegarty
STORMERS vs JAGUARES
The Stormers remain the only unbeaten side in Super Rugby after beating the Jaguares 17-7 on Saturday.
The South African side made it four wins out of four but laboured to a 3-0 halftime lead at Newlands before scrum-half Herschel Jantjies pounced on a stray pass and ran some 60 metres for the first try, followed soon after by a score for Ruhan Nel.
But they still had to a weather a strong comeback by the South Americans, whose hopes of an upset result were let down by an endless stream of infringements and mistakes.
"The score was not dominant but I thought we won the game with character. It was a quantum leap better than our last win," said Stormers coach John Dobson.
The round concluded on Saturday with Auckland Blues' Otere Black kicking over a last-gasp penalty as they edged the Bulls 23-21 in Pretoria.
Tries: Jantjies, Nel
Cons: Willemse 2
BULLS vs BLUES
An 80th-minute Otere Black penalty has clinched a las-gasp 23-21 win for the Blues in Pretoria.
Trailing by one point in the final minute, the Blues were given a chance to boot the winning score and Black duly converted.
The Blues scored three tries to two in the Pretoria thriller.
Tries: Steyn, Rudolph
Pens: Steyn 3
Tries: Telea, Robinson, Perofeta
Pens: Black 2