The best and worst from the Super Rugby action over the weekend.
Forward of the week:
Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)
The big man known as Guzzler scored two tries in two minutes and could have got a third but unselfishly passed the ball when only a couple of metres from the line in Pretoria. The Chiefs skipper was instrumental in his side's first win of the season against a Bulls side who have shown promise this year.
Back of the week:
Rieko Ioane (Blues)
In scoring two superb tries against the Highlanders to help the Blues to their first win over New Zealand opposition since February, 2016, Ioane underlined his credentials as the best left wing in world rugby. He now has six tries in two matches and is utterly key to his side's chances of more derby wins this season.
World Cup watch:
Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues)
The 1.98m, 120kg Tuipulotu has always had the size and power to be a considerable influence in any pack but he hasn't always been able to consistently put it all together. Hopefully for his sake his performance when coming on against the Highlanders late in the first half at Eden Park is more representative of what he can do because he was immense.
They've looked out of sorts for most of the season, but something finally clicked for the Chiefs and the Bulls were the unlucky party on the receiving end. The Chiefs scored 56 points despite losing Anton Lienert-Brown to illness, Jack Debreczeni to a head knock, Ataata Moeakiola to a neck injury and Solomon Alaimalo for 10 minutes to the sin bin. Damian McKenzie again thrived at fullback, while Brodie Retallick was immense. The season remains alive for the Hamilton club.
Waratahs: No chance we're overlooking the Australian side this week after they dispatched the previously unbeaten Crusaders. Despite having less possession, the Waratahs took the fight to the Crusaders and got the better of it. The kicking game of Bernard Foley played a big part in the win, while Kurtley Beale looked comfortable in the No 12 jersey as a secondary play maker and kicking option. After a few less than impressive outings, the win over the Crusaders reaffirms the Waratahs as a strong playoffs contender.
The game against the Blues was the Highlanders to lose inside the final 20 minutes, and they did just that. Not helped up a late yellow card to winger Waisake Naholo, the Highlanders gave up 10 points inside the final six minutes of the match to see the Blues scurry away with their first win against a Kiwi team in their in 21 attempts. It was an opportunity for the Highlanders to give themselves a bit of breathing room between themselves, the Blues and the Chiefs in what is shaping up as a tightly contested New Zealand conference – but it was a chance they missed.
Bulls: Call it a slip up, but after being thrashed by the Chiefs at home it's hard to see anyone backing the Bulls as a title contender right now. It was the first time this season the Bulls had met a team outside of the South African conference, with their only other loss on the season coming at the hands of Argentina's Jaguares. The loss poses the question that while the Bulls have the number of their fellow South African sides, are they up to the test of the clubs from the other countries in the competition. So far, the answer is no.