Super Rugby round three, video review
March 3, 2013
The Blues demonstrated their title credentials in a five-try demolition of the Crusaders
Sharks 12 - 6 Stormers Bulls 36 - 26 Force Chiefs 45 - 3 Cheetahs Reds 18 - 12 Hurricanes Waratahs 31 - 26 Melbourne Rebels Blues 34 - 15 Crusaders
Super Rugby round three featured more great action in the three host countries, none better than the five-star performance of the five-try Blues to demolish the Crusaders in the opening match of the weekend.
The Blues' near rivals the Chiefs also turned on the style in the second half against the Cheetahs, showing they will not give up the trophy this season without a fight.
Don't worry if you missed those matches, or any of the six fixtures over the weekend, including the strangely compelling game without tries in Durban; watch our extended video reports and tell us how you rate the teams on their performances to date.
Frank Halai got the better of Israel Dagg at Eden Park © Getty Images
The Blues maintained their impressive start to the Super Rugby season, defeating the Crusaders 34-15 with a bonus-point performance at Eden Park.
The Aucklanders, dismissed as title no-hopers before the season started, dominated the seven-time champions in all facets of the game to give their supporters early hope they can contend for a fourth Super Rugby title.
They showed a clinical combination of patience, speed of thought and rapier wit in attack, allied with discipline and determination in defence, to outscore the South Islanders five tries to nil. The 19-point margin did scant justice to their dominance against subdued opponents.
Watch the video report of the match at the top of the page to re-live the brilliance of the Blues, then leave a comment at the foot of the page to tell us your thoughts about Super Rugby round three.
Tell us your thoughts about the Blues and the Crusaders after their round-three fixture at Eden Park.
Are the Blues genuine title contenders? Were the Crusaders disappointing only because of rustiness due to having not previously played in Super Rugby 2013? Join the conversation by leaving a comment at the foot of the page.
Dave Dennis was content with the second-half form of his Waratahs © Getty Images
New South Wales recorded their first win of the Super Rugby season, defeating Melbourne Rebels to maintain their unbeaten record against their southern rivals.
The fixture was a real arm wrestle in heavy conditions after two days of constant torrential rain, and it was noticeable more for two yellow cards than for any great rugby, but the Waratahs will not care; they are off the mark, after losing their opening fixture, to Queensland Reds, despite the Rebels, perhaps, looking the most likely winners for the opening 55 minutes.
Waratahs captain Dave Dennis said he was "really pleased with the second half".
The Waratahs battle more negative publicity than almost any other Australian Super Rugby team, yet they showed against Melbourne Rebels that they may contend under Michael Cheika.
How do you rate the 2013 Tahs? And what about the Rebels? Should they be doing more given the talent on their roster?
Watch the video report of the game below then join the conversation about the Waratahs and the Rebels by leaving a comment at the foot of the page.
The Waratahs produced another stirring comeback, but this time, against the Rebels, they achieved victory
Quade Cooper was unable to produce his brand of magic in the heavy conditions © Getty Images
Queensland Reds recorded a hard-fought victory against the Hurricanes at Suncorp Stadium, hanging on grimly to secure the verdict after Digby Ioane and Rob Simmons had scored the only tries in a stop-start fixture.
The match featured few attacking chances, neither team willing to risk possession or position needlessly in the heavy and greasy conditions, and the Reds forwards produced the star turns to fashion the five-pointers.
Queensland captain James Slipper said the result was: "A credit to the squad, how hard we work for each other. The defence we just put up there was phenomenal."
The Reds seem not to have hit their straps, yet they have won two of their three fixtures; the Hurricanes, conversely, have done enough to win both of their games yet they have only one bonus point on the ledger.
Watch the video below and leave a comment at the foot of the page to tell us whether these two teams are title contenders or pretenders.
The Reds were defiant in holding off the fast-finishing Hurricanes.
Patrick Osborne and the Chiefs pack laid the foundation for the runaway victory © Getty Images
The Chiefs maintained their undefeated defence of the Super Rugby title, producing a dynamic final quarter to run away from the Cheetahs at Waikato Stadium.
The hosts looked anything but defending champions in the first half as the Cheetahs dominated possession and territory. The Chiefs led at half-time, 10-3, only because the Cheetahs failed to claim reward for having 79% of the possession - predominantly because fly-half Johan Goosen missed three kicks at goal.
But the Chiefs returned after the interval with renewed intensity, stung by words from the coaching staff. Assistant coach Wayne Smith said in a half-time interview that the hosts had been "woeful ... believed the press a wee bit", and he would have been pleased with the response as his players showed they would not relinquish the trophy without a fight.
Watch the video below and tell us if you were impressed by the Chiefs? Or were the flattered by the poor level of opposition provided by the Cheetahs? Join the conversation by leaving a comment at the foot of the page.
The Chiefs showed title credentials in running over the Cheetahs in the final quarter
The Force improved in Pretoria, but not enough © Getty Images
Western Force returned much improved form against the Bulls but still slipped to their third loss from as many Super Rugby matches this season.
The Force lost narrowly to Melbourne Rebels in their opener then put in a poor performance to hand Southern Kings a maiden victory in Port Elizabeth, but they tested fully the powerful Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
They led 26-19 early in the second half, after a try from Toby Lynn, but the home side piled on 17 unanswered points to claim a four-try bonus point victory; the Force failed to claim even a bonus point.
Do you see anything but another season of struggle for Western Force? Will the Bulls top the South African conference? Will Morne Steyn regain the Springboks No. 10 jumper? Watch the video below and join the conversation by leaving a comment at the foot of the age.
The Bulls proved too strong in the final stages, scoring 17 unanswered points to claim the victory
Patrick Lambie was the key man for the Sharks © Getty Images
The Sharks claimed a 12-6 win over the Stormers in a try-less fixture marred by handling errors that prevented the teams achieving continuity on attack.
The Stormers had the best chance of the match after a kick into the box by fly-half Elton Jantjies, but wing Gio Aplon failed to take the ball cleanly when he had a clear line in front of him.
How do you rate the chances of the leading hopes from South Africa? Are the Stormers bound for a tough season after two games without victory - and without a try?
Watch the video below and join the conversation by leaving a comment at the foot of the page.
The Sharks claimed victory over the Stormers at Kings Park in Durban.
© ESPN Australia/New Zealand
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton