All the Super Rugby action between the Crusaders and the Reds.
Early season contenders the Crusaders, Chiefs and Brumbies return from their first bye weeks to find the landscape in Super Rugby substantially changed by the defeat of the previously unbeaten Stormers.
Before last weekend's fifth round, the Stormers were the clear tournament leaders and the Crusaders, Chiefs and Brumbies, along with South Africa's Sharks, were in the vanguard of the chasing teams.
After the Auckland-based Blues stopped the Stormers' winning streak last weekend, the sixth round begins with much more compressed championship standings. The Cape Town-based Stormers have their bye this weekend, which means the table will likely become even more compact as the chasing teams take the opportunity to close in.
At this stage the Stormers and Durban-based Sharks have 4-1 records and are separated by a single point in the African conference while Argentina's Jaguares, 3-2, are a further point behind.
Only one point separates the top four teams in the New Zealand conference: the Christchurch-based Crusaders (3-1) are on top with 14 points but the Hurricanes and Chiefs, 3-1 after four games, and the Blues, 3-2 after five, all have 13 points.
The Brumbies (3-1) are alone in first place in the Australian conference, five points clear of the Melbourne Rebels who posted their second win of the season last weekend over New Zealand conference tailenders the Highlanders.
In the overall standings, only four points separates the top-place Stormers from the eighth-place Blues, then a gap has developed back to the Rebels and Queensland Reds which both have difficult assignments this weekend. The Reds face the Crusaders in Christchurch and the Rebels host the Johannesburg-based Lions, who are 1-3 this season but among the best travelers in the Africa conference.
The defending champion Crusaders will hope to come out of the bye week with the momentum they took into the enforced break. They bounced back quickly from their second-round loss to the Hamilton-based Chiefs to post consecutive derby wins over the Blues and Highlanders.
The task for the Reds looks a little less daunting than it might have been in the past. Wins by the Brumbies over the Chiefs and the Rebels over the Highlanders this season have helped dispel the pessimism Australian clubs may have been feeling about their prospects against New Zealand sides.
The Reds, who are in a rebuilding phase, are 1-4 this season and will go into Friday's match without backline general James O'Connor. But they believe they can rise to the challenge against a Crusaders team which is unbeaten in 33 matches at home.
"Every game's a crunch game for us from this point forward having played five games and only won one," Reds assistant coach Peter Ryan said. "I'm probably thinking that they're thinking it's another notch in their belt in terms of a win for them. So if they are thinking that, then I'd like to go over there and get a win."
The Brumbies face Japan's Sunwolves in Wollongong on Friday, a match shifted from Osaka and now part of a double-header in which the New South Wales Waratahs will play the Chiefs.
"The Sunwolves are a really dangerous team and we're not reading (much) into their recent results, they got a good win over the Rebels at the start of the season and we're certainly expecting a tough game," Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.
The Blues return from their unbeaten tour to South Africa to play the Hurricanes in Wellington. Both teams have one-loss records but in order to continue their form upswing the Blues well have to overcome travel and a poor record in derby matches.