Patrick McKendry runs through the best and the worst from the weekend's Super Rugby.
Back of the week
Brad Weber (Chiefs)
Credit to Bulls wing Rosko Speckman for scoring a hat-trick of tries against the Highlanders in Pretoria but Chiefs halfback Weber deserves this award due to his quality against the Waratahs and overall consistency this season. Weber, easily the form Kiwi No 9, made 47 passes during his 72 minutes on the field – that's busy - and ran with the ball for 74m. He also scored two tries in two minutes. Outstanding.
Forward of the week
Akira Ioane (Blues)
He's back. The big No 8 started his first game of the season and made a telling statement with a power-packed performance in Wellington which wasn't all about running with the ball; although he did score a crucial try against the Hurricanes just before halftime.
• Super Rugby: Blues beat Hurricanes, break losing streak after Tyrel Lomax sent off
• Super Rugby: Highlanders slump to defeat against Bulls
• Rugby: Blues change Super Rugby fixture due to coronavirus impact on Sunwolves' schedule
• Super Rugby: Blues coach Leon MacDonald confident side can bring away form back home
Ioane made all 13 out of 13 attempted tackles and most of them were dominant hits or wrap-ups which sent the attacker backwards. His performance spoke volumes.
Tyrel Lomax (Hurricanes)
Deservedly red-carded for his shoulder to the head of Blues fullback Stephen Perofeta after 47 minutes, the prop had to watch as first Vaea Fifita and then Jordie Barrett were sinbinned, the former for a shoulder charge, the latter for an intentional knock-on to prevent a try. It left the Hurricanes playing with 12 men late in the match, but Lomax started the rot and the Blues famously capitalised.
The Chiefs haven't played this consistently well since Dave Rennie left, so it appears Warren Gatland does indeed possess a little coaching magic. The slip-up at home against the Brumbies a fortnight ago appears more and more like it was just a blip because, after a topsy turvy first half against the Waratahs in Wollongong, they played with an ambition and confidence that blew their opponents off the park. They look ominous.
The Hurricanes, knowing the Blues had returned to Auckland on Tuesday morning after a successful two-match tour of South Africa, were obviously keen to run the visitors off the Sky Stadium pitch and yet it was the home side who looked the more tired – even in the first half when they had all 15 players on the pitch. The key to the Blues' win was their defence and their better discipline. They showed heart and composure in their historic victory.
With seconds remaining at Loftus Versfeld, the Highlanders decided to run the ball from their own territory. They didn't have much to lose – they were down 33-13 after falling apart in the second half. Except, they dropped it cold and Cornal Hendricks strolled over for another try – his side's sixth of the match. It was the story of the Highlanders' season so far. They are 13th of 15 teams with only one victory.
Whoever the match manager was for the Bulls v Highlanders match should hang their head in shame because the jersey clash for the match was one of the worst in Super Rugby history. Both sides took the field with dark blue patterned jerseys, blue shorts, and light blue socks. How they were allowed to do so beggars belief. Fortunately sanity prevailed and the Bulls changed their strip at halftime. They promptly scored 25 unanswered points.
Ryan Lonergan, Will Willer, Rob Valetini, Toni Pulu, Tevita Kuridrani, Solomone Kata, Joe Powell tries; Lonergan 5 cons, Reesjan Pasitoa con
Efi Maafu, Mike Stolberg tries; Garth April con, Jumpei Ogura con
Joe Moody, Leicester Fainga'anuku, George Bridge tries; Richie Mo'unga 3 cons, pen
Chris Feauai-Sautia, Harry Wilson, Taniela Tupou, Henry Speight tries
Brad Weber 2, Shaun Stevenson, Sean Wainui, Lachlan Boshier, Solomon Alaimalo, Anton Lienert-Brown tries; Aaron Cruden 3 cons, 2 pens; Kaleb Trask 2 cons
Kurtley Beale, Jack Dempsey tries; Will Harrison 2 cons
Akira Ioane, Mark Telea, penalty try; Otere Black 2 cons, pen
Ben Lam, Kobus van Wyk tries; Jordie Barrett con, pen
Andrew Kellaway 2, Richard Hardwick, Isi Naisarani, Dane Haylett-Petty tries; Matt Toomua 3 cons, 2 pens
Jamba Ulengo, Sithembiso Sithole tries; Elton Jantjies 2 cons, pen
Hyron Andrews, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Andre Esterhuizen, Kerron van Vuuren tries; Curwin Bosch 3 pens, 2 cons
Santiago Carreras, Joaquin Tuculet, Sebastian Cancelliere tries; Joaquin Diaz Bonilla con, Domingo Miotti con
Rosko Speckman 3, Jaco Visagie, Warrick Gelant, Cornal Hendricks; Manie Libbok 3 cons, Morne Steyn con
Josh Ioane try; Ioane 2 pens, con