New Zealand teams close up competition ladder

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The Reds 21-7 victory ended the Brumbies unbeaten run and both teams sit on 26 points sharing first place. However, the Australian teams are still a game ahead in the competition with the Crusaders and Blues on 23 and 22 points respectively.

It was a heavy round for the judiciary with four red cards issued, two of them against the Blues.

The first was against All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala for a high tackle in the first game against the Blues while All Blacks wing Caleb Clarke suffered the second when ruled to have not looked after his opponent, who was hit in the head, when miscuing his attempted take of a high kick.

Crusaders replacement hooker Shilo Klein guilty of a shoulder to prop Ethan de Groot's head.

Fijian Drua Nemani Nagusa's high tackle on Waratahs first five-eighths Tane Edmed saw him sent off

(1) Moana Pasifika 19 Blues 32

Necessity may have required the Blues to field a less experienced side against Moana Pasifika at Mt Smart Stadium in their catch-up game on Tuesday, but with the assured hand of former All Blacks lock Luke Romano, the visiting side showed commendable control in the face of a spirited second-half challenge. The Blues fielded a superior pack, with hooker Ricky Riccitelli scoring twice from lineout drives. That applied pressure on the Moana side, although it was a disallowed try to hooker Luteru Toilai midway through the second half that punctured the home team's spirited effort. A double movement was ruled and with consecutive penalties awarded the Blues made good with Romano scoring a deserved try at the other end. The loss of Laulala threatened danger, but the Blues held firm and, with livewire replacement halfback Finlay Calder inserted into the game, the tempo lifted, the forward drive returned and Calder crossed to put the issue beyond doubt.

Moana Pasifika 19 (Luteru Tolai, Abraham Pole, Tomasi Alosio tries; D'Angelo Leuila con; Lincoln McClutchie con) Blues 32 (Tamati Tua, Ricky Riccitelli 2, Luke Romano, Finlay Christie tries; Stephen Perofeta 2 con, pen). HT: 5-19

Crusaders 17 Highlanders 14

If the enthusiasm the Highlanders continue to summon whenever they play their neighbours, the Crusaders, could be bottled, it would find a ready market among other sides. Two tries apiece were scored in the first half, the ultimate difference being a penalty goal landed by first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga. Hooker Andrew Makalio opened the scoring against his old side, courtesy of another Highlanders' lineout variation while some nifty chip-kick and recovery work by second five-eighths David Havili provided the impetus for prop Fletcher Newell to reply. Highlanders first five Mitchell Hunt used a delayed pass to set his outside Scott Gregory into a gap for a try. The Crusaders' response came via a lineout drive and release of the ball to the backs where Havili fed centre Leicester Fainga'anuku, running on the angle, to pierce the defence to score. During the scoreless second half, the Highlanders gave the Crusaders' defence a workout, but there was no way they could breach the defences.

Crusaders 17 (Fletcher Newell, Leicester Fainga'anuku tries; Richie Mo'unga 2 con, pen) Highlanders 14 (Andrew Makalio, Scott Gregory tries; Mitchell Hunt 2 con). HT: 17-14

Fijian Drua 14 Waratahs 38

Two pieces of scoring class had the sides level at 7-7 early in the game. The first was a grubber kick put through by Waratahs' fullback Alex Newsome for wing Dylan Pietsch to win the chase to score, while the second was an outstanding burn on the outside by flying Fijian Drua wing Vinaya Habosi. But the loss of No8 Negusa was costly. The Waratahs employed their lineout drive whenever possible afterwards and extended their advantage by 10 points at halftime. After halftime, the loss of halfback Frank Lomani for a high tackle resulted in a yellow card leaving the Drua with 13 on the field. Among the six tries posted by the Waratahs was a typical supporting effort to flanker Michael Hooper returning from injury.

Fijian Drua 14 (Vinaya Habosi, Rusiate Nasove tries; Teti Tela 2 con) Waratahs 38 (Dylan Pietsch, Charlie Gamble, Dave Porecki, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Mark Nawaqanitawase tries; Tane Edmed 4 con). HT: 7-17

(2) Blues 46 Moana Pasifika 16

Launching a spirited start at Eden Park, Moana Pasifika looked up for the challenge, but a more experienced Blues side absorbed the pressure and applied their own through their lineout maul, hooker Kurt Eklund crossing for a hat-trick of tries down that avenue. And while the score blew out, it was at the cost of some hard hits from the Moana Paskifika defence. With the ball in hand, they also relished the chance to take on the Blues with hard-running, and while metres were gained in contact, players were stopped. Again, the denial of a try to prop Ezekiel Lindenmuth due to obstruction in the lead-up, occurred at a critical time and the Blues cashed in. The game was also another step in first five-eighths Stephen Perofeta's development with his clever choices significant in keeping the Blues moving forward and denying Moana Pasifika time in the Blues 22 to build points.

Blues 46 (Kurt Eklund 3, Caleb Clarke, Corey Evans, Bryce Heem, AJ Lam tries; Stephen Perofeta 4 con, pen) Moana Pasifika 16 (Tomasi Alosio try; Christian Leali'ifano con, 3 pen). HT: 29-16

Reds 21 Brumbies 7

Former Australia Sevens and Waratahs wing Cam Clark cut back against the grain on the end of a backline movement to open the scoring for the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. However, that was to be the end of the Brumbies' scoring. That was despite the loss of Reds flanker Tuaina Taii Tualima's red card for a cleanout shoulder to the head of Brumbies prop James Slipper. The Reds took advantage of yellow cards issued against the Brumbies to extend their second half lead, the first coming off a goal-line maul where flanker Fraser McReight drove over to score while 13 minutes from the end a huge pass of nearly 25 metres by first five-eighths James O'Connor found wing Filipo Daugunu perfectly placed, outside his marker, to take the ball and score, and to give the Reds a share of the lead in the competition.

Reds 21 (Fraser McReight, Filipo Daugunu tries; James O'Connor con, 3 pen) Brumbies 7 (Cam Clark try; Ryan Lonergan con). HT: 6-7

Hurricanes 29 Chiefs 30

Sunday afternoon rugby thrived in this contest that started with a TJ Perenara intercept and ended with Hurricanes skipper Ardie Savea demonstrating why the adage 'never take your eye off the ball' is still appropriate in rugby. He took a tap penalty ran past surprised Chiefs players and then drove over the line to get his side within one point of the Chiefs. In between times, the Chiefs got their noses in front on the back of some outstanding ball-in-hand running from No8 Pita Gus Sowakula, and some fine direction-setting from first five-eighths Josh Ioane, who more than made up for the pass that set Perenara up for the first try. The Chiefs looked sharper at the breakdown, as they had intended, through Boshier and skipper Sam Cane, while their bench capped the game off well with replacement fullback Chase Tiatia scoring a lovely try and replacement first five-eighths Bryn Gatland pulling off a 50-22 kick in the last minute to deny the Hurricanes the chance they wanted for a last-minute steal.

Hurricanes 29 (Wes Goosen, TJ Perenara, Julian Savea, Ardie Savea tries; Jordie Barrett 3 con, pen) Chiefs 30 (Anton Lienert-Brown, Kaylum Boshier, Chase Tiatia tries; Josh Ioane 2 con, 3 pen; Bryn Gatland con). HT: 15-13

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