The best and the worst from the latest action of Super Rugby.
Back of the week
Rieko Ioane - Blues
It's scary to think, given he's played only three Super Rugby games, how good the younger Ioane brother could become. Having turned 19 last month, the wing produced a performance brimming with pace and professionalism in his side's narrow defeatto the Chiefs. As the Blues sought to retain possession and limit the opportunities enjoyed by the home side's lethal attack, they regularly played with width and Ioane showed enough speed to exploit the space on the outside of the Chiefs'defence. He beat six defenders in the match and his try gave the Blues a 10-point lead they would squander.
Forward of the week
Dane Coles - Hurricanes
Two clean breaks, three defenders beaten and even an offload - few hookers are capable of the type of athletic efforts Coles produced in the Hurricanes' thumping of the Jaguares. The hooker exemplified the Hurricanes' improving fluidity with ball inhand, carrying well throughout the match and crossing for his side's fourth try midway through the second spell. Coles anchored a strong set piece but it was in possession where he truly separated himself with an unmatched skillset, racking up 65 run metres to lead all Hurricanes in the category.
Joe Wheeler - Highlanders
It took until halftime before the Highlanders really started playing in their loss to the Reds. Down 22-6 at the break ,they rallied to eventually pull within a point but just ran out of time. It could have been a different story had the come back kicked off a little earlier, though. Trailing by 19 with half an hour to play, Lima Sopoaga looked like he had scored in the corner, but the Highlanders were denied when the TMO spotted Joe Wheeler committing an illegal neck roll on Reds hooker Andrew Ready at an earlier ruck. The foul play set back the visitors and left them with too much to do.
The Fab Four
They may have been below their exceptional best against the Blues but the Chiefs' victory completed a remarkable seven-week mini-season for the Super Rugby leaders. Dave Rennie's men are guaranteed to still be on top of the competition when they return from their bye, having kicked off their campaign by scoring an average of 5.6 tries a match to earn five bonus points in their six victories.
If the Chiefs' lead has been built on attack, their closest challengers have done it all with defence. The 19 points the Stormers shipped against the winless Sunwolves was actually the most the South African side have conceded all season, having allowed only eight tries in six games. And look for that trend to continue, considering the Stormers won't have to face a New Zealand team until the playoffs.
Given that particular imbalance in the competition, an argument could be made that the Lions are in fact the strongest South African side in Super Rugby. Their comprehensive win in Durban saw the Lions extend a perfect record against their countrymen, with their only two defeats coming in the South Island. Their match against the Stormers next week should determine South African superiority.
Slowly but surely, the Hurricanes are starting to look like the team who romped their way into last year's final. Their six-try dispatching of the Jaguares was the third consecutive week they have posted more than 40 points and, if they can extend their winning streak to five against the Rebels next week, they will welcome the Chiefs back from their bye with an intriguing clash in Wellington.
Crusaders v Jaguares, Christchurch, 7.35pm
Rebels v Hurricanes, Melbourne, 9.40pm
Cheetahs v Sunwolves, Bloemfontein, 5am
Blues v Sharks, Auckland, 7.35pm
Waratahs v Brumbies, Sydney, 9.40pm
Bulls v Reds, Pretoria, 3.05am
Lionsv Stormers, Johannesburg, 5.10am
Bye: Chiefs, Highlanders, Kings, Force