The Crusaders lead the New Zealand Conference with 14 points, three behind the Stormers, and one ahead of the Chiefs.
The Brumbies head the Australian Conference with 13 points, six ahead of the second-placed Reds.
Crusaders 33 Highlanders 13
The Highlanders were all hustle at the start of the game but the Crusaders demonstrated their mastery at absorbing the pressure to score the first try when hooker Codie Taylor was on hand to take a short pass from wing George Bridge. Soon after it was centre Braydon Ennor crashing through weak tackles from forwards in the defensive line to score. Momentary respite came with fullback Michael Collins scoring for the visitors, but that merely produced a response from the Crusaders with Bridge scoring. A better Highlanders' third quarter denied the Crusaders but in the home stretch replacement loose forward Sione Havili's try put the issue beyond doubt.
Crusaders 33 (Codie Taylor, Braydon Ennor, George Bridge, Sione Havili tries; David Havili con, Bryn Hall 2 con, Mitch Drummond con) Highlanders 13 (Michael Collins, Jona Nareki tries; Josh Ioane pen). HT: 26-8
Rebels 24 Sharks 36
Just how much first five-eighths Curwin Bosch is part of his side's approach was clear when he returned from South Africa to lead the side to a comfortable win in Ballarat over the Rebels. Having had the only dent in their touring record a week earlier against the Hurricanes, they dominated the game from the outset, in spite of wing Makazole Mapimpi's early try being matched by wing Marika Koroibete for the home team. The Sharks scored through wing Madosh Tambwe, the result of a long Bosch pass, to turn up 22-10. A strong home third quarter was contained by the Sharks defence before a double sin-binning allowed a home try to No 8 Isi Naisarani to close the margin. But the Rebels couldn't build on that as Mapimpi scored and then handed the ball over the goal-line to Bosch for the Sharks' final try of the game.
Rebels 24 (Marikia Koroibete, Isi Naisarani, Anaru Rangi tries; Andrew Deegan 3 con, pen) Sharks 36 (Makazole Mapimpi 2, Andre Esterhuizen, Madosh Tambwe, Curwin Bosch tries; Bosch 4 con, pen). HT: 10-22
Chiefs 14 Brumbies 26
Stung by their late loss to the Highlanders a week earlier, the Brumbies demonstrated their intent from the outset against the Chiefs in Hamilton, and it was an attitude the home side were never able to contain. What made the Brumbies' effort more compelling was that in achieving their win they ended a 13-game losing streak in New Zealand that stretched back to March 2014. It was also a win that was not reliant on the driving lineout maul that has been so prevalent for the side. They moved the ball with fullback Tom Banks and right wing Solomone Kata scoring the first two tries. A rampaging flanker Pete Samu added two more with hard-running efforts later in the game. A hint of a home revival flickered in the third quarter with two quick tries but they were eventually snuffled out by the determination of the Brumbies' defence.
Chiefs 14 (Aaron Cruden, Anton Lienert-Brown tries; Damian McKenzie 2 con) Brumbies 26 (Tom Banks, Solomone Kata, Pete Samu 2 tries; Noah Lolesio 3 con). HT: 0-19
Reds 64 Sunwolves 5
Frustrated by their loss a week earlier in Buenos Aires, the Reds celebrated their first game at home by running up 64 points against the Sunwolves. Three tries in the first 12 minutes set the tone for the side who went to halftime leading 36-0, a situation helped after Sunwolves midfield back Ben Te'o was sin-binned eight minutes out from the break. Until the substitutions started to be made in the second half, the Reds carried on in a relentless procession that was only temporarily halted with Siosaia Fifita scoring for the Sunwolves with 15 minutes remaining. The Reds struggled to hold their shape when the substitutions were made but took a welcome boost from their win.
Reds 64 (Liam Wright, Taniela Tupou, Hunter Paisami, Tom McDermott (2), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, James O'Connor, Hamish Stewart, Josh Nasser, Isaac Lucas tries; Jock Campbell 7 con) Sunwolves 5 (Siosaia Fifita try). HT: 36-0
Stormers 17 Jaguares 7
For 67 minutes of their win at Newlands, the Stormers looked on target to prevent three of the four teams they have played from from scoring, but the Jaguares managed to score when No 8 Rodrigo Bruni finally got over the line. But it wasn't enough to deny the home team who are the only unbeaten side in the competition courtesy of their win. It wasn't the most scintillating game with the Stormers scrum strength negated by outstanding Jaguares defence in the first half, the only scoring being a penalty goal to the home team. But seven minutes into the second half halfback Herschel Jantjies picked up a loose ball and raced to the line to score. Soon after centre Ruhan Nel found space after a lineout on the 22m line to score the second and give the Stormers the breathing space to claim the win.
Stormers 17 (Herschel Jantjies, Ruhan Nel tries; Damian Willemse 2 con, pen) Jaguares 7 (Rodrigo Bruni try; Domingo Miotti con). HT: 3-0
Bulls 21 Blues 23
Discipline proved a vital factor in this contest, the home team offending in areas that gave tactical advantage to the Blues. At one stage in the first half, the Bulls were down to 13 men with Burger Odendaal and Andries Ferrerira in the sin-bin together. The Blues capitalised with a try to wing Mark Telea in that period but when halfback Jonathan Ruru was sin-binned just before halftime, the Bulls reclaimed the lead. It was when No 8 Hoskins Sotutu was in the bin that the Bulls scored their last try to claim a 21-20 lead. However, the Bulls were caught offside in midfield and first five-eighths Otere Black landed the winning penalty goal, this after his earlier precision with a cross-kick taken by replacement wing Matt Duffie which resulted in a try for fullback Stephen Perofeta.
Bulls 21 (Morne Steyn, Jeandre Rudolphe tries; Mani Libbok con; Morne Steyn 3 pen) Blues 23 (Mark Telea, Tom Robinson, Stephen Perofeta tries; Otere Black con, 2 pen). HT: 11-8
Blues application rewarded in Pretoria
Securing a much-needed 23-21 Investec Super Rugby win over the Bulls in Pretoria, courtesy of a last-minute penalty goal by first five-eighths Otere Black, the Blues had set themselves a standard to build on.
That was coach Leon MacDonald's summation of a win that required a determined approach across 80 minutes from the side.
They hadn't been able to round out wins after being in positions to push on recently and the Chiefs had most recently done that to them.
"To be able to turn around and do that is obviously pleasing. I thought we showed a lot of fight right through till the end. The conditions were tricky and tough at altitude but we hung in there and we managed to get the play that counted which was the last one so we're really pleased," he told South African media.
"We competed in a lot more areas, our set piece was a lot better and given the wet conditions I thought we tried our best to play in the best areas of the field which we did for long periods of time."
"They showed a lot of grit and ticker to get there in the end. With the weather it was always going to be a game of those little moments and we managed to get that last one which counted so I was just really pleased for them. We've put in a lot of hard work in the last few weeks so it's nice to get a result," he said.
The game had been different to what they usually played but MacDonald was pleased with the way the side adapted for what was an 'arm-wrestle' battle. It was the sort of game the Blues had lost in the past and getting on the right side of the ledger for a change was pleasing.
"We executed really well. We moved the ball to space, we kicked to space and I thought our lineout led by Patrick Tuipulotu was outstanding. They were put under pressure after last week and they responded well against a big pack," he said.
In talking with NZ media MacDonald felt having his three first five-eighths, Black, Harry Plummer at second five-eighths and Stephen Perofeta at fullback, on the field together had worked well.
"I thought Stevie was outstanding. He was very brave under the high ball and he's dangerous on attack so he's got a skill set that suits that position and obviously he's a good 10 as well but Harry was busy at 12 and a good foil for Otere. I thought it worked well, they all played well and then TJ [Faiane] coming off the bench added a bit of experience late in the game as well which we were hoping for from him so we're really pleased with how that all worked," he said.
Black had brought some composure at first five-eighths and his character was demonstrated in the way he stepped up and landed the winning goal.
"He's a good organiser and he was really accurate with his line kicks and general kicking. It was a good hit out for him, his first of the season and he did a great job for us."
MacDonald said there was still plenty for the side to work on but the win would give their confidence a boost heading into what was going to be a tough encounter with the Stormers in Cape Town next weekend.
Captain Tuipulotu said the game against the Stormers would be a good challenge for the side.
"They've had a couple of big wins and they've been setting the standard and for us it just sets the stakes higher," he said.
The side had enjoyed two good weeks of preparation and with another week they would have to step that up to be ready for the Stormers, he said.