CRUSADERS 31-24 STORMERS
Canterbury Crusaders' rookie flyhalf Tom Taylor scored all of his team's points as the seven-times champions brought an end to only perfect record in Super Rugby with a 31-24 victory over South Africa's Stormers on Saturday.
Two sides packed with All Blacks and Springboks made for a contest of the highest quality at Christchurch Stadium but it was 23-year-old student Taylor's try and 26 points from a perfect display of kicking that proved decisive.
Joe Pietersen kicked a penalty well after the siren to give the Stormers a bonus point that will give them at least with a share of the lead in the South African conference despite their first defeat in seven matches this year.
With Dan Carter being played out of position at inside centre the Crusaders backline had an unusual look about it as it came up against what is traditionally the meanest defence in the competition.
The South Africans showed that they had qualities aplenty in attack too, though, with an opportunist try from centre Juan de Jongh and a brilliant team effort finished off by winger Bryan Habana.
It was Taylor who got the first try, however, when the Crusaders put together an attack of dazzling simplicity from a turnover in the 13th minute.
Straight running and quick hands got the ball out to hooker Corey Flynn on the wing and his pass inside gave Taylor a clear run to the line.
Taylor, the son of All Black Warwick Taylor, added the extra points but the Stormers charged back with a try of their own seven minutes later when de Jongh hacked on a grounded pass from Carter and won a footrace to recover the ball and score.
The Crusaders managed to see out Wyatt Crockett's 10 minutes in the sin bin for a high tackle around the halftime break and still emerge with a 22-16 lead as Taylor continued to punish all Stormers' infractions.
The Cape Town-based outfit ramped up the tempo considerably around the hour mark and phase after phase of pressure drew its reward when Dewaldt Duvenage's clever crosskick was gathered by Habana for the Springbok flyer's 51st Super Rugby try.
Pietersen missed the conversion and a chance for the Stormers to edge ahead, though, and a yellow card for flanker Rynhardt Elstadt, also for a high tackle, combined with Taylor's sixth penalty gave the home side daylight at 25-21.
Two more Taylor penalties secured a fourth win in seven matches for the Crusaders and made up in some part for the disappointment of falling to a narrow defeat to the Bulls in South Africa last week.
CHEETAHS 33-39 CHIEFS
Waikato Chiefs flyhalf Aaron Cruden notched 14 points as his side secured a thrilling 39-33 win over the Cheetahs in a Super Rugby match on Saturday.
The Chiefs scored five tries to collect a bonus point that moved the New Zealanders to the top of the table after eight rounds.
Prop Arizona Taumalolo bagged two tries while wing Lelia Masaga and centres Sonny Bill Williams and Richard Kahui picked up one apiece in a match that was in the balance until the last three minutes.
Replacement flyhalf Johan Goosen claimed 16 points for the Cheetahs in only 30 minutes on the field with a try, a conversion and three penalties.
He is the tournament's leading scorer this season on 127 points.
Earlier, Cheetahs starting flyhalf Sias Ebersohn slotted four penalties and replacement flanker Ashley Johnson dived over for a try.
Taumalolo's first try in the 47th minute helped give the Chiefs a 17-9 advantage but their opponents quickly turned the game around to lead 22-17.
A second try by Taumalolo in the 57th minute put the Chiefs back in front before Goosen levelled matters at 25-25 with his second penalty.
Williams scored six minutes from time and Kahui crashed over three minutes later to seal the win.
Goosen then landed a 56-metre penalty on the final whistle to earn the South Africans a bonus point for losing by fewer than seven points.
BRUMBIES 37-6 REBELS
ACT Brumbies blew the Melbourne Rebels away with four first-half tries before running out 37-6 winners in Canberra to cement their position at the top of the Australian Super Rugby conference on Saturday.
Two tries from Scott Fardy as well as scores from Pat McCabe, Michael Hooper and Ben Mowen gave the Brumbies a bonus point victory to resume their revival under coach Jake White after defeats in their last two outings.
The Rebels had been looking to back up their shock win over the Auckland Blues last week but their defence was poor and the talented backline trio of Danny Cipriani, James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale were given few chances to show their skills.
"We weren't happy with the way we played last week," Brumbies skipper Mowen said in a pitchside interview. "We needed to get across the gainline before we went out wide and in the first 40 minutes we built that platform."
Wallaby centre McCabe opened the floodgates when he ran straight through an O'Connor tackle to score under the posts in the 18th minute but it was two tries in two minutes soon afterwards that broke the Rebels.
First openside flanker Hooper powered through three tacklers to touch down in the 24th minute before O'Connor was caught in possession with lock Fardy bulldozing his way across the line from the resultant turnover.
Rebels skipper Gareth Delve was sin-binned for a deliberate foul just after the half hour mark and he was still sitting on the touchline when another McCabe break gave flanker Mowen the fourth try three minutes before halftime.
The Rebels tightened things up in the second half but were unable to breach the twice-champions' line as a combination of errors and strong Brumbies defence stymied their efforts leaving them with just two wins from seven matches this season.
Fardy added his second try with another tackle-busting run 13 minutes from time but by that stage the destiny of the spoils was in no doubt.
"We just weren't at the races, especially in the first 30, we didn't step up and make our tackles," said disappointed Welshman Delve. "I thought they played really solid, smart rugby and they'll go well."
LIONS 18-32 BULLS
The Bulls ran rampant as they thumped the Lions 32-18 in an all-South African Super Rugby match in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Pretoria-based Bulls scored five tries to two to consign the hapless Lions to their sixth consecutive defeat.
The margin of victory could have been a lot higher if Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn had not missed three conversions and two penalty kicks.
The victory was the Bulls' fifth out of seven matches.
"The first half was quite tough but we got our game going in the second half," Bulls captain Pierre Spies said.
"The Lions were very good on defence but we are glad we got a bonus point because going forward that could be very important," he added.
The unfancied Lions made a fast start to the match and took the lead in the second minute when scrumhalf Tian Meyer charged down a kick from Steyn before gathering the loose ball to go over for a converted try.
Lions outside centre Jaco Taute kicked a long-range penalty kick as the hosts moved into a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes.
But the Bulls dominated possession and finally breached the Lions defence in the 18th minute when wing Akona Ndungane went over in the right-hand corner after a powerful midfield surge from number eight Spies.
The Bulls proceeded to score a further 15 unanswered points in the half as their forwards began to take control of the contest.
Steyn succeeded with a penalty before scrumhalf Francois Hougaard showed tremendous strength to force his way over for a converted try.
The visitors grabbed their third try on the stroke of half-time when fullback Zane Kirchner crashed over in the corner after some splendid interplay between the Bulls' backs and forwards to go into the break leading 20-10.
The Bulls secured their bonus-point try less than a minute after the restart when Ndungane collected a cross-field kick from Steyn before feeding flank CJ Stander who crossed untouched for an unconverted score.
Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies responded with a penalty but the Bulls were in a remorseless mood and lock Juandre Kruger grabbed his team's fifth try after a jinking 30-metre run from outside centre JJ Engelbrecht.
The hosts were not completely deflated and, as the match entered the final quarter, Josh Strauss stretched over to score after his team had taken the ball through 17 phases of play. (; Writing by Jason Humphries in Durban; Editing By Alison Wildey)