Super Rugby round-up: Wins for Crusaders, Bulls, Waratahs, Sharks, Chiefs, Hurricanes
Last Updated: 01/04/18 7:19pm
The Crusaders win at the Lions, Bulls beat Stormers, Sharks outgun Blues, Waratahs edge Brumbies, Waikato take Highlanders and Hurricanes hammer Melbourne Rebels in Round 7 of Super Rugby.
Updated results and highlights from week seven...
Lions 8-14 Crusaders
Two tries in three minutes in the second half saw the Crusaders claim a hard-fought victory in an entertaining game that belied the low scoreline.
The home side led 5-0 at halftime through wing Madosh Tambwe's score, with the Crusaders twice denied tries after forward passes from flyhalf Mitch Hunt to wing George Bridge.
But the visitors did get their first score on 51 minutes through skipper Sam Whitelock, and then claimed the match-winning try shortly afterwards when Jack Goodhue crossed over.
Elton Jantjies reduced the deficit late on with a penalty, the first points for the home side in over an hour, but they could not force the win in the closing minutes.
Bulls 33-23 Stormers
Hooker Adriaan Strauss bagged a hat-trick of tries in what was a South African record 149th Super Rugby appearance as the Bulls' pack outmuscled the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld.
All the former Springbok captain's scores came from line-outs, the third one a steal after the error-ridden visitors missed their jumpers five metres from their own line.
Winger John-Ben Kotze and centre Jesse Kriel also crossed for the home side, while the Stormers, who played for 20 minutes with 14 players, scored through lock Jan de Klerk, centre Damian de Allende and flanker Siya Kolisi.
The win ended a four-game losing streak for the Bulls, while the Stormers have now lost all four away games in this year's competition.
Brumbies 17-24 Waratahs
At Canberra, the Waratahs lost star full-back Israel Folau in the fourth minute with a hamstring injury. But a two-try performance from Taqele Naiyaravoro led the Waratahs to their third win of the season, reducing the gap behind the Australian conference-leading Melbourne Rebels to six points.
David Pocock had a quiet night in his first match with the Brumbies since 2016 after recovering from knee surgery following a 12-month sabbatical.
It was also the 100th Super Rugby appearance for Pocock, who took over as captain when Christian Leali'ifano was substituted in the 56th minute.
Blues 40-63 Sharks
Robert du Preez scored a staggering 38 points on Saturday, as the Durban-based Sharks crushed the Auckland-based Blues 63-40.
Both teams scored six tries in a match that featured little defence, but du Preez kicked a flawless return of seven penalties and six conversions to give the Sharks their fifth win over the Blues in six matches in Auckland.
The Sharks had one win from five games and the Blues one win from four, entering Saturday's match and the Sharks picked them apart, scoring four tries in the second half, the last arriving in the third minute of injury time.
The Sharks scored first-half tries through Ruan Botha and Jean-Luc du Preez to lead 26-7 at half-time while the Blues rallied at the start of the second half with tries from Akira Ioane, Patrick Tuipulotu and fly-half Stephen Perofeta to lead 28-26.
But a try from Lubabalo Mtembo and the accuracy of du Preez from the tee opened up a lead that was added to by Kobus van Wyk and Bosch either side of a late try for the Blues by George Moala.
Chiefs 27-22 Highlanders
Damian McKenzie engineered two key tries to set up a 27-22 victory for the Chiefs over the Highlanders in Hamilton. For the Chiefs, back home after thrashing the Sunwolves in Tokyo, it improved their record to four wins from five matches.
The Highlanders however suffered their second loss after falling to the Wellington Hurricanes last weekend.
"It was a pretty gutsy win. It was a real arm wrestle but we hung in the fight," said captain Sam Kane, who celebrated his 100th Super Rugby game.
Earlier, McKenzie landed two penalties for the Chiefs to take an early 6-0 lead while the Highlanders suffered the loss of influential fly-half Lima Sopoaga to an apparent Achilles injury.
When Waisake Naholo scored for the Highlanders to hit the front 7-6, following Fletcher Smith's conversion, McKenzie again stepped up as the central figure for the Chiefs.
Just before half-time, he put in a weighted cross-kick for wing Toni Pulu to tap inside for full-back Solomon Alaimalo to score.
Three minutes after the break, the diminutive pivot waltzed through a loose attempt by the Highlanders to protect their own line and put Nathan Harris in for the try.
With the Chiefs ahead 20-12, it was the turn of a recharged Highlanders side to regain the lead with a penalty from Smith who then converted a try by Paletasio Tomkinson after Ash Dixon scooped up a charged-down McKenzie clearance.
When a try by Sean Wainui regained the lead for the Chiefs, the Highlanders were still in the game as they attacked the Chiefs' line. But losing their own throw in two critical lineouts let the Chiefs off the hook.
Rebels 19-50 Hurricanes
The Hurricanes hammered Australian conference leaders Melbourne Rebels 50-19 in Melbourne for their 11th straight win over Australian opposition, stretching New Zealand's winning run over Australian teams to 33 games stemming back to 2016.
Wellington posted 42 unanswered points with winger Ben Lam scoring four tries after trailing the Rebels 19-8 late in the first half.
It was a comprehensive win by the Hurricanes, who had the luxury of replacing their first-choice half-back pairing of Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara with a quarter of the game left and the job done.
All Black fly-half Barrett helped himself to a try, three conversions and three penalties for a match haul of 20 points.
"I think the turning point of the game was the final seven minutes before half-time when we scored a couple of tries," Hurricanes skipper Brad Shields said.
"Momentum swings just like that but when we hold onto the ball and if we're really patient we can score points and we showed in the second half what we're all about."