Super Rugby Review: Round 5

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Lynn McConnell     26 Mar 2017     Getty Images

The Crusaders, who still have to have the bye lead on 21 points, the Chiefs, who had the bye this week, are on 19 with the Lions (also still to have the bye). The Jaguares are on 18 points, and the Sharks and Stormers on 17 points. The Jaguares and Sharks are also still to have the bye. The Hurricanes are on 15 from four games while the Blues and Brumbies are on 11, with both still to have the bye.


New Zealand Conference
The Crusaders gained the lead in the New Zealand Conference when beating the Force 45-17 in Christchurch in the round opener. Putting their starting woes behind them the Crusaders made early inroads against a tenacious Force side, but then in the final quarter they overcame some stodgy scrummaging which could have taken an edge from their game to storm home.

It was a case of the Blues wearing down the Bulls in Albany for a 38-14 win, the last act of the game inflating the Bulls score with a post-hooter try. This was a measured performance as the Blues attempted to wear the Bulls down and then pounce by unleashing their most dynamic touches in the final quarter.

The Highlanders faced a tough battle before holding out for an 18-13 win with some determined defence in the final stages of their game in Canberra against the Brumbies. Replacement prop Aki Seiuli scored what proved the winning try after some determined Highlanders driving at the line. However, the win left the Highlanders two point adrift of the Blues at the bottom of the Conference.

Australia Conference
The Waratahs had to give it a bit of the Crusaders approach when beating the Rebels 32-25 in Melbourne. The home team were up 25-6 at the break but went scoreless as the Waratahs scored four tries to restart their campaign, with the return of first five-eighths Bernard Foley helping their cause.

In spite of their loss to the Highlanders, the Brumbies bonus point for being within seven points kept them at the top of the Conference, still three points clear of the Waratahs.

The Reds were unable to lift in Argentina and went down to the Jaguares 8-22, paying the price for indiscipline which saw them with two yellow cards within a minute of each other.

Africa Conference 1
The Sunwolves came close to pulling off the first genuine upset of the competition when losing 31-44 to the Stormers in Singapore. The Stormers were given a thorough test by the improving Japan-based side and had to spend 20 minutes of the game reduced to 14 men. The Sunwolves scored four tries against the Conference leader who had to score six to quell the home side's spirit.

The Bulls proved there was still a gap between New Zealand and South African sides in the first game between sides from the two countries in this year's competition. The Bulls had plenty of ball but couldn't break down the home defences with play that was too predictable and they had no answer for the dynamism of the home side in the final quarter.

The Cheetahs gave it plenty but were unable to close their chances to go without reward in their 30-38 loss to the Sharks in Bloemfontain.

Africa Conference 2
The Kings never recovered from a poor start and went down 19-42 to the Lions in Port Elizabeth. Scoring five tries in the first half, the Lions led 35-12 at the break with debut wing Madosh Tambwe scoring a brace. After an early try to the Kings the game was then scoreless for 32 minutes before the scoring deadlock was broken as Harold Vorster scored what proved a bonus point try to move the Lions to the head of the points table.

The Sharks had to work hard in Bloemfontein before securing a 38-30 win over the Cheetahs. Out to an early 15-3 lead, the Sharks saw the Cheetahs come back to 15-13 at the break. By a stronger second half saw them out to 38-23 with 10 minutes left, the Cheetahs scoring a late try to close the margin. The Sharks sit second in their conference, two points behind the Lions.

The Jaguares continued their impressive start to the season by recording their third home win and their fourth of the competition when disposing of the Reds 22-8, including scoring two tries while the Reds had two men in the sin-bin. The win moved them to second on the ladder, one point behind the Lions.