Super Rugby round five video review
March 16, 2013
Robbie Fruean was just one Crusaders player to produce a clinical display against the Bulls © Getty Images
Sharks 10 - 29 Brumbies Reds 12 - 19 Force Crusaders 41 - 19 Bulls Southern Kings 24 - 35 Chiefs Waratahs 26 - 27 Cheetahs Highlanders 19 - 23 Hurricanes
The Brumbies produced their best performance of the season to date with their clinical dismantling of the previously undefeated Sharks in Durban, the victory ensuring the Canberra side goes into round six with a six-point buffer atop the ladder.
The Cheetahs and Western Force, meanwhile, upset New South Wales Waratahs and Queensland Reds respectively away from home, and the Hurricanes and the Chiefs looked good respectively beating Southern Kings and the Highlanders.
But the most notable performance of the weekend was the Crusaders' rampaging defeat of the Bulls at AMI Park.
The seven-time Super Rugby champions recorded their first win of the season with a powerful team performance, in their first game of the campaign in front of the Christchurch faithful, to give succour to fans inclined to listen to the naysayers.
Friday, March 15
The Hurricanes claimed their second successive win of the season (video available only in Australia)%]
The Hurricanes scored three tries to one to beat the Highlanders 23-19 in a Super Rugby cliffhanger at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday night.
It was the Hurricanes' second consecutive win and the Highlanders' third consecutive loss as the hosts continued their miserable start to the season.
There was little between the teams and, while Hosea Gear was a power runner for the Highlanders, the Hurricanes were more penetrative in attack.
"We were a little more direct and that's what got us the points in the end," Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith said after the match. Highlanders stand-in skipper Brad Thorn, meanwhile, said the defeat was hard to take. "To me it sucks, but nothing changes," Thorn said.
The Waratahs suffered another depressing loss, against the Cheetahs (video available only in Australia)%]
New South Wales slumped to a 27-26 loss to their South African bogey side, the Cheetahs, and Berrick Barnes' latest setback - a dislocated thumb - only compounded their misery at Allianz Stadium.
The Waratahs' defeat was their third straight, and the Tahs also claimed a dubious place in the Super Rugby history books as the first team to lose three times in a row to the Cheetahs.
Adding insult to injury, former Waratahs half-back Sarel Pretorius was the architect of the South Africans' triumph, putting lively winger Raymond Rhule over for the match-winning try 10 minutes from full-time.
A 40th-minute try to centre Adam Ashley-Cooper had given NSW an unlikely 20-17 lead at the break and the Tahs continued to hold sway for most of the second half.
But after dominating possession and territory for the bulk of the match, the Cheetahs eventually broke through to back up their win last week on the road against the Highlanders.
The Chiefs stuttered at times, but eventually prevailed (video available only in Australia)%]
A hat-trick to winger Lelia Masaga gave the Chiefs a 35-24 win against a resolute Southern Kings outfit at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
A large crowd at the Port Elizabeth ground acknowledged Chiefs co-captain Liam Messam, who led his side out in his 100th Super Rugby match. From there the Chiefs ensured he reached the milestone on a winning note as the defending champions recorded a four-tries-to-two victory.
For the Kings, their second consecutive loss will be disappointing but the fighting spirit they showed against the defending champions, particularly in defence, will see them feared by other Super Rugby sides in weeks to come.
Chiefs fullback Gareth Anscombe kicked 15 points with three penalties and three conversions while Kings No.10 Demetri Catrakilis kicked four penalties and a conversion for a personal tally of 14 points.
Saturday, March 16
The Crusaders looked as if they can win an eighth Super Rugby title (video available only in Australia)%]
The Crusaders breathed life into their Super Rugby campaign, defeating the previously unbeaten Bulls to register their first win of the season in their first game of the year in Christchurch after back-to-back away losses to the Blues and the Hurricanes.
The hosts scored three tries in each half, but ultimately they won the contest with a five-minute burst midway through the first stanza in which they scored two tries to cap multiple-phase passages of play after cruelling themselves previously with handling errors that had halted momentum.
Bulls captain Pierre Spies paid tribute to the Crusaders, saying: "They were on song tonight and obviously very desperate to win ... we couldn't get going and they kept us out of our game. In the lineouts they were very good. The scrums they also put us under pressure. Also, we couldn't get out of our half. We kept playing in our own half and you can't build any proper momentum so credit to them for that."
Western Force thoroughly deserved their victory (Video available only in Australia)%]
Western Force rained on Will Genia's parade, claiming their first win in Brisbane as the Queensland Reds and Wallabies half-back returned to action after six months on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Genia played the first half before he was replaced by Nick Frisby, as had been planned by the Reds coaching staff, and he looked sharp after his absence. The half-back also showed he had lost done of his trademark pace as he almost ran down Alfi Mafi as the Force winger scored his fourth try of the season.
But Genia's direct opponent, Alby Mathewson, was the man of the match, the architect of Mafi's try and of the victory; the Force half-back made a break from a first-phase lineout move before feeding Mafi to beat Genia's cover defence in the left corner.
Mathewson was also key to the Force's best attacking moment of the second half, making another scything break and launching a kick into space for Junior Rasolea to chase, but the winger, a second-half replacement for Mafi, spilled the ball in beating the cover defence as he touched down.
The Brumbies are looking good atop the Super Rugby ladder (video available only in Australia)%]
The Brumbies confirmed themselves the Super Rugby pace-setters by bursting out of the blocks and smashing the Sharks 29-10 in Durban to remain the only undefeated side in the competition.
The win was their seventh in a row on the road, giving them the record for the most consecutive away wins in Super Rugby history, but more importantly the Brumbies are now six points clear of the second-placed Chiefs on the Super Rugby ladder having won all four of their games this year.
Jake White's team ran onto Kings Park Stadium like a team possessed, launching wave after wave in attack to tire last year's Super Rugby runners-up and rack up the four-try bonus point in just 34 minutes. The Brumbies pushed forward with more than ball in hand, with their rush defence putting the Sharks on the back foot throughout and openside flanker George Smith creating havoc at the breakdown.
Bye: Bulls, Rebels, Stormers,
Make your ESPN FootyTips selections for Super Rugby round six
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand