After missing the first two rounds due to Covid-19, Moana Pasifika played the Crusaders in a hard-fought contest but it was the Crusaders who finished strong again to claim a bonus point win that left them one-point clear at the top of the points table.
The Brumbies and Reds are a point back.
Week 3 results were:
It didn't take long for Moana Pasifika to announce their arrival with flanker Solomone Funaki scoring their first try in the 14th minute against the Crusaders in Dunedin. The inexperienced Crusaders combination took time to find their feet but when they did it was wing George Bridge who broke the defence after flanker Tom Christie's inside pass. Bridge fired a long pass to lock Mitch Dunshea who scored in the corner. Back for his first game of the season, flanker Ethan Blackadder charged across for the second try. Returning All Blacks had different fortunes in the second half. Hooker Codie Taylor scored two trademark maul tries but when first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga tried to run ball from his own line, he was caught which resulted in a try to replacement back Fine Inisi for Moana Pasifika.
Scorers: Moana Pasifika 12 (Solomone Funaki, Fine Inisi tries; Lincoln McClutchie con) Crusaders 33 (Mitch Dunshea, Ethan Blackadder, Codie Taylor 2, Abraham Pole tries; Simon Hickey 3 con; Richie Mo'unga con). HT: 5-14
Two goal-kicks, one successful and one not, allowed the Blues to hang on for a 24-22 win over the Chiefs at Eden Park. But that last kick, missed by replacement Chiefs' first five-eighths Bryn Gatland, saved the Blues from embarrassment, and flanker Tom Robinson especially, after two basic technical errors, as the Blues attempted to play out time after a fine try to wing Mark Telea and an even better sideline conversion from fullback Stephen Perofeta to secure a two-point lead. Robinson got in front of his ball carrier as the Blues attempted to deny the Chiefs the ball in a maul, and then conceded the final penalty when jumping across the resulting lineout. Earlier, the Blues had failed to maintain the momentum they demonstrated in their previous outing although wing Caleb Clarke and No8 Hoskins Sotutu scored tries to show what the Blues were capable of. Chiefs centurion Brad Weber celebrated with two tries and wing Etene Nanai-Seturo provided a reminder of his class with a well-taken try.
Scorers: Blues 24 (Caleb Clarke, Hoskins Sotutu, Mark Telea tries; Harry Plummer 2 con, pen; Steven Perofeta con) Chiefs 22 (Brad Weber 2, Etene Nanai-Seturo tries; Josh Ioane con; Bryn Gatland con, pen). HT: 10-12
Hurricanes prop Pouri Rakete-Stones showed he could be a handy asset in the midfield when running like a second five-eighths off first five-eighths Ruben Love's pass to open the try scoring. But it was another 40 minutes before they could score again when second five-eighths Billy Proctor ran in close off a ruck to barge his way over. Bobbled Hurricanes ball on their line saw Highlanders replacement lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit reach up to take the ball and corkscrew his way over to get the Highlanders back in the hunt. But, Hurricanes replacement midfielder Peter Umaga-Jensen showed his speed when probing wide, to take a gap and feed inside to replacement halfback Logan Henry for the try. The Highlanders stormed back with lock Josh Dickson blasting his way over, but the home team were able to hold on in the final moments.
Scorers: Hurricanes 21 (Pouri Rakete-Stones, Billy Proctor, Logan Henry tries; Jordie Barrett 3 con) Highlanders 14 (Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Josh Dickson tries; Marty Banks 2 con). HT: 7-0
Second half dominance paved the way for Fijian Drua to make their mark in the competition with a 31-26 over the Rebels on the Sunshine Coast. Down 7-14 at the turn, the Fijians poured the pressure on a Force side missing 14 players due to injuries and suspensions. Early in the second half, flanker Vilive Miramira pounced on a poor lineout tap by the Rebels to race 70 metres for a stunning try. Continued indiscipline added to their woes as a quick penalty tap 50m out saw centre Apisalome Vota run in another try while Drua replacement Teti Tela landed four penalty goals to put distance between them and the Rebels. That was especially welcome after Rebels second five-eighths Ray Nu'u scored an 80th minute try. Rebels captain Michael Wells said the hard-running Fijians broke countless tackle attempts to the point that 'it was men playing boys at times'.
Scorers: Fijian Drua 31 (Onisi Ratave, Vilive Miramira, Apisalome Vota tries; Caleb Muntz con; Teti Tela con, 4 pen) Rebels 26 (Young Tonumaipea 2, James Hanson, Ray Nu'u tries; Matt To'omua 3 con). HT: 7-14
It was the Force's 200th Super Rugby game but it was Reds first five-eighths James O'Connor who proved the party pooper. He demonstrated his class from the outset for the Reds, opening a gap for loose forward Fraser McReight to split the defence before feeding inside for flanker Hamish Stewart to score. Doubling around behind in midfield, O'Connor held his pass to open space for Jordan Petaia to feed in fullback Jock Campbell for the second try. Force second five-eighths Kyle Godwin kept the home team in touch when securing a lob kick in the in-goal area to score but a head-high tackle provided O'Connor with a penalty goal in front of the posts to see the Reds to a 15-13 lead at the break. And it was O'Connor again whose 65th minute grubber kick to the in-goal provided wing Josh Flook with the try, then five minutes later, O'Connor's delayed pass put McReight in for the try.
Scorers: Western Force 16 (Kyle Godwin try; Jake Strachan con, 3 pen) Reds 29 (Hamish Stewart, Jock Campbell, Josh Flook, Fraser McReight tries; James O'Connor 3 con, pen). HT: 13-15
Utilising superior forward play during the first half, the Brumbies took a 17-6 lead to the break and, while they faced greater attacking pressure in the second half, they reaped the reward by maintaining a seven-point barrier. The Sydneysiders' recovery was sparked by first five-eighths Ben Donaldson. He created two second-half tries by running hard to take gaps to provide tries for prop Angus Bell and No8 Will Harris, but it was all too late as the Brumbies had their points bank to create a scoring buffer at the end of the game.
Scorers: Brumbies 27 (Rob Valetini, Nick Frost, Irae Simone tries; Noah Lolesio 3 con, 2 pen) Waratahs 20 (Angus Bell, Will Harris tries; Ben Donaldson 2 con, 2 pen). HT: 17-6