Super Rugby roundup

Ben Smith and Nasi Manu lead the Highlanders onto the pitch during the round two Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Blues. Photo / Getty Images.
Ben Smith and Nasi Manu lead the Highlanders onto the pitch during the round two Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Blues. Photo / Getty Images.

The first full round of Super Rugby separated hype from reality for some purported title contenders and revealed a competition that may be stronger across the board than at any time in recent seasons.

The Crusaders and Blues in New Zealand and the Stormers in South Africa, all touted as potential champions, opened their campaigns with defeats; South Africa's Sharks and Lions won their second straight games, and the defending champion Chiefs and the Queensland Reds won thrilling derbies.

The circumstances of the Chiefs' 18-10 win over the Crusaders, and the Reds' 27-17 win over the ACT Brumbies were almost eerily similar. Both led at halftime then absorbed enormous defensive pressure throughout the second half before clinching wins with late tries.

-AP

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