Hurricanes hold firm at top of the ladder

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Upsets continued in round five with the Drua winning on golden point against the Waratahs who have slipped to 10th position while the Force got their first win by beating the Reds have have dropped from second to fifth.

The Crusaders five losses are their worst losing streak.

Statistics watch:

Most tries: Corey Toole (Brumbies), Matt Faessler (Reds) 6, Hoskins Sotutu (Blues) 5.

Most carries: Mark Tele'a (Blues) 67, Seru Uru (Reds) 66, Peter Lakai (Hurricanes), Harry Wilson (Reds) 60.

Most clean breaks: Toole 9, Chase Tiatia (Force) 8.

Most defenders beaten: Selestino Ravutaumada (Drua) 26, Andrew Kellaway (Rebels) 25, Tool, Iosefo Masi (Drua) 24

Most lineouts won: Nick Frost (Brumbies) 28, Liam Wright (Reds) 24, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (Rebels) 21.

Most metres gained: Kellaway, Shaun Stevenson (Chiefs) 389, Harry Potter (Force) 376

Most offloads: Tele'a 9, Billy Proctor (Hurricanes), Wilson 8.

Most points: Damian McKenzie (Chiefs) 64, Tane Edmed (Waratahs) 51, Sam Gilbert (Highlanders) 47.

Most tackles won: Tom Christie (Crusaders) 111, George Bell (Crusaders) 80, Carlo Tizzano (Force) 72

Hurricanes 54 Rebels 28

Early forward power set the tone for the Hurricanes in a first-half unleashing which resulted in – tries, none more impressive than a lineout move started by flanker Brad Shields taking a long lineout, passing inside to halfback TJ Perenara who had second five-eighths Jordie Barrett outside for a pass to go in under the posts. Box kicks from the Rebels were ineffectual with fullback Harry Godfrey taking one at speed, breaking the defence and feeding wing Salesi Rayasi in for his second try. Shields had his reward from a ruck on the line after another Godfrey incursion into the line and then Rayasi, on the right flank, repaid Godrey's earlier set-up by giving him the pass to score his second try.

A brace of tries either side of halftime to lock Angelo Smith and centre Lukas Ripley showed the Rebels' spirit was not broken but, consecutive Hurricanes tap penalties saw the scoring machine swing into action again with flanker Du'Plessis Kirifi scoring before Perenara's support resulted in his 59th try for the side. Barrett picked up the last, his second to mark his return while the Rebels had some reward with replacement Mason Gordon and hooker Jordan Uelese scoring before the end.

Hurricanes 54 (Salesi Rayasi 2, Jordie Barrett 2, Brad Shields, Harry Godfrey, Du'Plessis Kirifi, TJ Perenara tries; Aidan Morgan 7 con) Rebels 28 (Angelo Smith, Lukas Ripley, Mason Gordon, Jordan Uelese tries; Carter Gordon 4 con). HT: 33-7

Brumbies 60 Moana Pasifika 21

Perfect conditions in Canberra set the Brumbies on their way to an impressive win on Friday. An early break by first five-eighths Noah Lolesio put centre Hudson Creighton over for the opening try before wing Kyren Taumoefolau scored on the right wing for Moana Pasifika. Brumbies DNA provided their next try when flanker Rob Valetini scored after a powerful lineout drive. But, a Moana Pasifika backfield mistake saw second five-eighths Tamati Tua complete the Brumbies' response with a try. Hard-working Moana Pasifika No8 Leni Inisi was rewarded when getting outside lock Caderyn Neville on the Brumbies line, courtesy of a lovely pass to score. However, a killer 14-point play saw the Brumbies secure the ball when Moana Pasifika wing Nigel Ah Wong was stripped of the ball. It was moved by the Brumbies on their line with a Tom Wright kick across to wing Corey Toole. He took the ball at speed, drew the tackle, and then passed it to the supporting Wright to cap a clever play with the try.

The Brumbies capitalised on another kick to Toole's wing, and he fed Creighton in for his second try. No8 Charlie Cale had a chance, off an inside pass from Lolesio, to show his speed by clearing out to score. The home side lost wing Ollie Sapsford to the sin-bin, and Moana Pasifika made the most of it with centre Pepesana Patafilo busting through for a try. Before the end, Wright fed a blindside pass to Toole for a try, and then, almost from the restart, Wright supported a line break to score his second. The final try came from a lineout maul, with replacement hooker Lachlan Lonergan scoring.

Brumbies 60 (Hudson Creighton 2, Rob Valetini, Tamati Tua, Tom Wright 2, Charlie Cale, Corey Toole, Lachlan Lonergan tries; Noah Lolesio 5 con, pen: Lachlan Lonergan con) Moana Pasifika 21 (Kyren Taumoefolau, Lotu Inisi, Pepesana Patafilo tries; Christian Leali'ifano 2 con; William Havili con). HT: 29-14

Fijian Drua 39 Waratahs 36

An early lineout move from the Waratahs produced an unchallenged try for hooker Mahi Vailanu and while first five-eighths Tane Edmed's penalty goal carried them to a 10-0 lead in the eighth minute, that was their only points of the first half. The Drua hit back, with centre Iosefo Masi cutting back to score between the posts. Then they gave the Waratahs a dose of their own medicine with their version of the front-of-lineout play as halfback Frank Lomani scored. In the 28th minute, Lomani threw a dummy at a scrum on his 22-metre line, and Masi was given the ball 40m out to run in his second. And four minutes later, he was in again, courtesy of a wide pass from Lomani across the face of goal-line defenders.

The Waratahs stormed back with flanker Charlie Gamble's support play rewarded with a try. But hooker Tevita Ikanivere barged across from a goal-line ruck before the Waratahs responded with second five-eighths Joey Walton scoring. Into the final quarter, first five-eighths Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula took the Drua to 36 points before the Waratahs' lineout drive produced a second try for Vailanu, with 20 minutes to play and seven points in it. Replacement Lachie Swinton's try, 16 minutes from time, levelled the scores. Going into golden point, replacement Kemu Valetini who took advantage of scrambled Waratahs defence to drop a goal from 35m out for the win.

Fijian Drua 39 (Iosefo Masi 3, Frank Lomani, Tevita Ikanivere tries; Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula 4 con, pen; Kemu Valetini dropped goal) Waratahs 36 (Mahe Vailanu 2, Charlie Gamble, Joey Walton, Lachie Swinton tries; Tane Edmed 4 con, pen). HT: 26-10, FT: 36-36

Chiefs 28 Highlanders 21

Set-piece continuity provided the opening scoring chance the Chiefs needed, and wing Daniel Rona made the most of a slight opening to score five minutes into the Hamilton contest. After some slashing midfield runs by their tight forwards, it was the lineout maul that next provided for the Chiefs through hooker Bradley Slater in the 14th minute. The lineout next produced a move to create space for midfielder Rameka Pohipi while Tanielu Tele'a was under review for a head contact tackle, and he scored. The review was upheld.
Failure to secure a box kick allowed first five-eighths Damian McKenzie to swoop onto the ball and down the sideline; his speed allowed him to link inside with halfback Cortez Ratima on hand to extend the lead to 28-0. Keeping with their never-say-die approach, the Highlanders stormed back in the final quarter, with wing Timoci Tavatavanawai scoring their first try. With 10 minutes left and Chiefs No8 and skipper Luke Jacobson in the bin, the Highlanders scored again through fullback Jacob Ratumatai-Kneepken, who scored. Uncontrolled ball in the Chiefs' goalmouth saw No8 Nikora Broughton win a scramble to score. But a bonus point was all the Highlanders could claim.
Chiefs 28 (Daniel Rona, Bradley Slater, Rameka Pohipi, Cortez Ratima tries; Damian McKenzie 4 con) Highlanders 21 (Timoci Tavatavanawai, Jacob Ratumatai-Kneepkens, Nikora Broughton tries; Sam Gilbert 3 con). HT: 21-0

Blues 26 Crusaders 6

Many ghosts of Blues rugby past were buried at Eden Park when the home team continued the Crusaders' miserable start to their season by inflicting their fifth loss on them. Misery started before the game when the ground was doused in heavy rain, only to clear but leave the ground wet and the ball slippery. That made conditions difficult for both sides, although the Crusaders struggled at their lineout with the late withdrawal of lock Quentin Strange, leaving them under-manned. The Blues also forced defensive errors and benefited from a lack of discipline as the Crusaders sought every opportunity. It wasn't enough. The first half was dominated by penalty goals, three to Stephen Perofeta, who recovered from a poor effort a week earlier, and Crusader Riley Hohepa, who landed two as the Blues took a 9-6 lead to the break.

But, taking a lesson from the old Crusaders playbook, the Blues scored two tries two minutes after their return through prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi and centre AJ Lam. That ensured an overdue win for the Blues at home, their first in 10 years against the Crusaders. With more rain, the sides scrambled to achieve coherent passages of play, and with the Crusaders' lineout still struggling and penalties conceded, the Blues were never in doubt of letting the game slip away.

Blues 26 (Ofa Tu’ungafasi, AJ Lam tries; Stephen Perofeta 2 con, 4 pen) Crusaders 6 (Riley Hohepa 2 pen). HT: 9-6

Force 40 Reds 31

It's true; any team can beat the other in Super Rugby Pacific. Taking full advantage of a counter-ruck turnover, the Force moved the ball to make a statement by giving wing Bayley Kuenzle the space to run in a good try on the right flank. Another turnover, followed by a long kick to the Reds' goalmouth, saw Thomas Franklin awarded a 23rd-minute try for the home team. More pressure, under penalty advantage on the line, saw wing Chase Tiatia with wide-open real estate to score in the 30th minute. It took 34 minutes before the Reds responded through halfback Tate McDermott to score. But on halftime, Nic White was given too much room around a goal-line ruck, and he scored for a 28-5 lead.

The Reds mounted a second-half effort, with McDermott getting his second 90 seconds after the start. But the Reds No8 Harry Wilson fumbled the ball from the restart, and Kuenzle pounced to score his second try. The lineout maul produced a response from Reds hooker Matt Faessler who scored. Again, the Force responded with flanker Carlo Tizzano fed into a gap to outpace the cover defence to score. That buffer proved sufficient in the face of two Reds' tries to flanker Fraser McReight and fullback Jock Campbell.

Force 40 (Bayley Kuenzle 2, Carlo Tizzano, Chase Tiatia, Nic White, Thomas Franklin tries; Ben Donaldson 5 con) Reds 31 (Tate McDermott 2, Matt Faessler, Fraser McReight, Jock Campbell tries; Tom Lynagh 2 con; Harry McLaughlin-Phillips con). HT: 28-5


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