While the Chiefs and Hurricanes put their feet up for the week, the other New Zealand franchises recorded wins in round five of Super Rugby.
In between scrum resets the Crusaders had too much for the Force, a second half surge saw the Blues better the Bulls while the Highlanders were at their scrappy, tenacious best in topping the Brumbies.
Having taken it all in, Radio Sport Rugby Editor Nigel Yalden has selected his NZ Form Team of the Week:
1. Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders)
Having impressed off the bench, Crockett was just as good starting against the Force; excellent in all areas of general play and for me unfairly punished at scrum time by a ref who appeared to be really struggling to decipher what he was seeing there.
2. Liam Coltman (Highlanders)
Worked his tail off through the full 80 minutes in Canberra and snaffled a pair of very timely turnovers for his team. James Parsons (Blues) had his best outing of the season whilst leading his team effectively.
3. Owen Franks (Crusaders)
Best tighthead prop in world rugby ... that's all.
4. Tom Franklin (Highlanders)
His work-rate around the field, particularly in tight, is up there with the likes of All Blacks incumbent second row duo Retallick & Whitelock. He does his core duties to a very high standard, but his desire to get off the ground and hustle back into the line is especially impressive - three turnovers and a lineout steal further highlighted his defensive prowess on Saturday night.
5. Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues)
Tuipulotu delivered one of his best Super Rugby performances on Saturday night. He carried hard, tackled harder, was solid at both set pieces and capped off the night with two delightful quick-through-the-hands passes, first to put Ihaia West in, then to set off a sweeping movement down the left wing finished by Melani Nanai - Forward of the Week
6. Elliot Dixon (Highlanders)
Dixon was a constant presence in and around the ball during a very combative contest in Canberra and while he rarely got the ball in those situations, he was providing quality irritation to the Brumbies. Those sort of physical encounters play right into Dixon's strengths as he delivered his best performance of the season to date.
7. Blake Gibson (Blues)
All Black coach Steve Hansen often talks about wanting to see a player "empty the tank" each and every week. Well that's what Gibson has done over the five weeks of the tournament to date and while it was odd to see him substituted after 60 minutes, it was yet another industrious, robust hour at the coalface of a rugby match.
8. Jerome Kaino (Blues)
He set the tone early for his forward pack to follow and follow they did. Kaino is another player who revels in the physical confrontation and the All Blacks excelled in the tight exchanges, grabbing two turnovers, and was the primary source of lineout ball too. Luke Whitelock (Highlanders) was into everything in Canberra too.
9. Augustine Pulu (Blues)
He continues to benefit for starting rugby matches on a weekly basis. While it wasn't his most efficient or accurate outing, he was still clearly the best of the three halfbacks on display this weekend.
10. Mitchell Hunt (Crusaders)
None of the four first fives on display this weekend (Fletcher Smith & Marty Banks split time for the Highlanders) captivated with their play. They were all solid, but didn't have significant influence in general play. If pushed probably Hunt but not with great conviction.
11. Melani Nanai (Blues)
Nanai saw plenty of ball and utilised it well to this win this week's Russell Westbrook Award for best stat line by an NZ player - 16 carries, 117 metres made, 4 off loads, 3 line breaks, 1 try & 1 try assist. The Blues did a great job of getting Nanai involved and he responded with numerous positive touches.
12. Ryan Crotty (Crusaders)
Whenever I watch Crotty play, I hear the voice of the great US College Basketball coach Bobby Knight screaming in my head "Smart wins". Don't get me wrong - Crotty is a tremendous athlete and tough as old boots but his ability to sum up a situation so quickly then makes really, really smart rugby decisions is outstanding and is a wonderful security blanket for young first five Mitchell Hunt.
13. Rieko Ioane (Blues)
However this selection is another that lacks conviction as the three kiwi centres were all solid in varying games.
14. Matt Duffie (Blues)
Duffie's excellent 2017 campaign continued its upward trend with a stand out effort against the Bulls at Albany. He might look like a stiff breeze would knock him over, but the Bulls struggled to do that as he carried with purpose at first receiver off good lineout ball. He was always in good position, both attack and defence, chased the high ball, and nabbed two well-deserved tries for his efforts - Back of the Week
15. Michael Collins (Blues)
Week by week, Collins has been eliminating the little errors and Saturday he produced the best outing of his short Super Rugby career. Collins was in good position to field or contest the high ball and incisive on attack.
Selection criteria: Must play for a NZ franchise but does not have to be eligible for All Blacks
NIGEL YALDEN IS THE RUGBY EDITOR FOR RADIO SPORT & NEWSTALK ZB