BLUES 50 d. CHEETAHS 32 @ Eden Park
The Blues kept their impressive home record against overseas sides intact with a high-scoring win over the visiting Cheetahs. The Bloemfontein outfit trailed just 24-18 at halftime thanks to a couple of penalties just before the break to Fred Zelinga, but the Blues dominated the opening period of the second half and ultimately ran out seven-tries-to-four victors. In-form youngster Rieko Ioane scored two of the Blues’ tries in their 10th straight victory against overseas opposition.
LIONS 13 d. BRUMBIES 6 @ GIO Stadium
Renowned for their attacking prowess, South African Group leaders the Lions grafted out a gutsy seven-point win over the Brumbies in Canberra. Despite dominating territory and possession, the Brumbies led just 3-0 at halftime, before a barnstorming long-range try to Lions blindside flanker Ruan Smith turned the game on its head. The loss marked the second straight home game the Brumbies have failed to score a try.
CRUSADERS 20 d. HURRICANES 12 @ AMI Stadium
The Crusaders laid down their title-contending credentials by keeping the red-hot Hurricanes try-less in a clinical 20-12 victory in Christchurch. The heavyweights were locked 9-all at halftime, but stand-in skipper Matt Todd scored the only try of the match to put the Crusaders on course for a super-impressive victory.
REDS 29 d. REBELS 24 @ AAMI Park
So often pipped at the post themselves, the Reds inflicted some heartbreak on the Rebels with captain Samu Kerevi powering over for the match-winning try with less than two minutes on the clock. The visitors led 17-9 at halftime, but tries to flanker Will Miller and winger Marika Koroibete levelled the scores at 24-all with 10 minutes left. Kerevi’s second try of the night revived the Reds’ hopes of topping the Australian Conference.
HIGHLANDERS 17 d. BULLS 10 @ Loftus Versfeld
While not as dramatic as their late flurry to run down the Cheetahs last week, the Highlanders got out of jail for the second week in a row in the Republic, thwarting the Bulls via a Malakai Fekitoa try in the final five minutes. The Highlanders led 10-3 at halftime thanks to a Matt Faddes try but a touchdown to Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant squared up the scoreboard. Waisake Naholo and Rudolph Snyman were both handed red cards inside the final quarter, and it was the Highlanders who ultimately capitalised on the extra space through All Blacks centre Fekitoa.
KINGS 35 d. SHARKS 32 @ Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
The unfancied Kings’ stunning form reversal continued, winning their third straight game courtesy of a huge upset against the Sharks. A last-gasp try to Pieter-Steyn de Wet stole the historic win for the Kings, for whom Lionel Cronje notched 20 points and Alshaun Bock scored two tries.
FORCE 16 d. JAGUARES 6 @ Velez Sarsfield
The Force enjoyed a rare highlight in a wretched season at an unlikely venue, while the Jaguares’ finals hopes suffered a devastating blow in a try-less home loss to the struggling Perth outfit. The visitors led 3-0 at the break, before Alex Newsome and Isireli Naisarani found their way over for five-pointers to nab a significant upset in Buenos Aries.