Wins for the Blues, Highlanders and Chiefs this weekend.
The Blues go to the top of the New Zealand conference with their win over the Rebels and the Highlanders upsetting the Crusaders in Nelson - they are now four points ahead of the Crusaders while the Highlanders move up to be just a point behind the Crusaders.
BLUES v REBELS (40-23)
- Ali Williams returned from injury and in his 65 minutes on the field won two lineouts plus stole one from the Rebels.
- Linebreaks aplenty from the Blues, Rene Ranger lead the charge with three (one resulting in his first try of the night), with Jared Payne, Stephen Brett and Lachy Munro chiming in with two each.
- A slightly higher than usual penalty count against the Blues this week conceding a total of 10. All but one came at the breakdown.
- Not a vintage night with the boot for Stephen Brett landing just three from nine attempts. Luke McAlister took over the kicking late in the game when he came off the bench and kicked one conversion from two attempts.
- With seven tries in the bag this became the fifth game this season that the Blues have scored four or more tries.
CRUSADERS v HIGHLANDERS (26-28)
- It's not often you see the Crusaders beaten at their own game, but with nine breakdown turnovers won the Highlanders out-passioned and out-numbered the Crusaders at the tackle this week.
- The Highlanders maintained their wonderful lineout stats losing just one from their ten throws. The Crusaders met that challenge by winning ten of their eleven throws.
- The nine handling errors by the Crusaders didn't help their chances of grabbing a last minute victory with four of them coming in the last 10 minutes of the game.
- A remarkably low penalty count in this game, just twelve in total (eight conceded by the Crusaders and just four by the Highlanders)
- This is the first game the Crusaders have failed to take competition points from this year.
SHARKS v HURRICANES (40-24)
- Two yellow cards didn't help the Hurricanes as they slumped from holding the Sharks to 13-13 at half time. It was Ma'a Nonu's second yellow of the season, but James Broadhurst could probably feel a little aggrieved for his for a seemingly innocuous piece of rucking in the fourth minute of the match.
- It was a mixed night for Nonu, he made two linebreaks (one resulting in a try to Cory Jane) but also threw two forward passes and conceded two penalties.
- The Hurricanes lineout worked well this week and they won 100 percent of their own ball. Victor Vito was their main go-to man with six takes.
- A better week with the boot for Dan Kirkpatrick kicking five from six attempts.
- The Hurricanes won six breakdown turnovers off the Sharks, but a total of 9 knock-ons and two forward passes cost them dearly.
- Andrew Hore played his 100th Super game.
LIONS v CHIEFS (30-34)
- The Chiefs own lineout may not have been running like a well oiled machine at times, losing two of their 10 throws, but Romana Graham and Craig Clarke had a field day on the Lions throw both stealing two throws.
- Scott Waldrom had an excellent day at the office with two clean breakdown wins, one running linebreak and two tries.
- Stephen Donald returned from injury and kicked just four from eight attempts at goal, but importantly landed a 75th minute penalty to give the Chiefs a four point buffer as the Lions threw everything at them in the dying minutes of the game.
- Only five linebreaks from the Chiefs in this game, with four tries coming from the forwards with Romana Graham and Toby Smith joining Waldrom on the score sheet.
- Dwayne Sweeny was the only Chiefs' back to score a try this week, and it came from an excellent linebreak by Lelia Masaga.
- Again the Chiefs' scrum was under the spotlight with two penalties conceded.
- The breakdown area will be a concern for coach Ian Foster with six turnovers and seven penalties conceded.
* Further NZ player stats can be found at Haka.co.nz