Super Rugby
Super Rugby round six video review
ESPN Staff
March 24, 2013

Friday, March 22

Chiefs v Highlanders, Hamilton

The Chiefs overcame lethargy and the Highlanders (video available only in Australia)

The weary Chiefs did just enough to overcome the desperate Highlanders 19-7 at Waikato Stadium on Friday night.

It was always going to be a tough ask for Dave Rennie's men, who were noticeably flat coming off a two-week tour of South Africa. But the gap in class became apparent as Tim Nanai-Williams made the visitors pay for an early mistake with his third try of the season.

Not for the first time this season, the boot of Gareth Anscombe proved the difference for the defending champions.

His 14-point haul negated a first-half try to Aaron Smith and ensured there was enough on the scoreboard to hold on for a tough win and climb six points clear atop the New Zealand conference.

It was a sobering moment for the southern men, who slumped to their fourth consecutive loss and remain firmly at last place in the overall standings.

Saturday, March 23

Crusaders v Southern Kings, Christchurch

The Crusaders continued against the Kings where they left off against the Bulls (video available only in Australia)

The Crusaders put on an exhibition in the first half to destroy the Southern Kings before coasting to victory at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday, the southlanders scoring seven tries as they took maximum advantage from the visitors' passive and porous defence.

The Crusaders, seven-time champions who showed the first signs of being 2013 title contenders in defeating the Bulls in round five to claim their opening win of the season, continued in the same vein against the Kings but without making the errors that blighted their first 20 minutes the week before.

Crusaders captain Kieran Read hailed his team's first-half performance as "outstanding", saying "you've got to come out and really hit it early".

Kings coach Schalk Ferreira said "we didn't think it was going to be easy, but ... a few slipped tackles cost us, which isn't like us".

Reds v Bulls, Brisbane

The Reds defeated the Bulls in spite of themselves (video available only in Australia)

Queensland Reds bounced back from the shock defeat by Western Force to claim a battling victory against the Bulls at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the hosts just maintaining their undefeated home record against the South African side despite an error-strewn performance.

Quade Cooper was pivotal to the success that marked the return of James Horwill, the Reds captain making a 40-minute cameo after his long absence due to knee and ankle injuries; the fly-half endured a mixed night with the boot, missing two of five penalty goals, but he was integral in the two tries that decided the result.

Cooper combined with halves partner Will Genia on multiple occasions in the first-half try-scoring move capped by Jono Lance, and he scored the second-half try that regained the lead and settled Reds nerves after Louis Fouche had kicked the Bulls into a 15-13 advantage.

Cooper also made what might have been a match-saving tackle on Zane Kirchner after the final siren as the Bulls attacked to claim a try that would have levelled the scores.

The Bulls thought they had got that try when JJ Englebrecht rouched down in the left corner to cap another flowing attack, but television reviews showed the winger had clipped the touchline in his final stride before crossing the tryline.

Force v Cheetahs, Perth

The Cheetahs maintained their winning form to defeat Western Force (video available only in Australia)

The Cheetahs completed a hat-trick of victories on tour, defeating Western Force at nib Stadium in Perth on the back of a fantastic defensive effort.

The Force were confident of victory in their first home game of the season, after shocking Queensland Reds in Brisbane in the previous round, and they looked to be on the path for back-to-back wins when Winston Stanley crashed over for a converted try in the right corner after 26 minutes to capitalise on turnover ball.

But the Force were unable to break the Cheetahs defence again, lacking either width or vision, with the visitors' backrowers Heinrich Brussow, Pieter Labuschagne and Phillip Van Der Walt magnificent.

The hosts also paid a heavy price for three missed penalty goals, two from Sias Ebersohn and one from Jayden Hayward, as well as a missed drop goal from Kyle Godwin.

Cheetahs fly-half Riaan Smit, selected only because of the season-ending knee injury for Johan Goosen, conversely kept the scoreboard ticking over as the Force paid for ill-discipline. He landed a perfect four penalties before converting a breakaway try from Willie Le Roux, the winger scoring at the death after the five-eighth had monstered Force backrower Ben McCalman in defence.

Sharks v Melbourne Rebels, Durban

The Sharks but a big bite on the Rebels (video available only in Australia)

Melbourne Rebels suffered a record Super Rugby drubbing with the Sharks running in 10 tries in a 64-7 bloodbath in Durban.

The Rebels flew to South Africa confident of cracking their first ever win abroad but instead were embarrassed by the rampant Sharks. Their previous biggest defeat was 53-3 at the hands of Queensland in March 2011.

The home side had only managed three tries in three rounds leading into the match but eclipsed that in the 34th minute when skipper Keegan Daniel charged across the line for try number four.

Compounding the misery for the Rebels, star playmaker James O'Connor was yellow-carded in the second half for a lifting tackle which could face further scrutiny.

The proud home side was shocked last week when the Brumbies ran in four first-half tries in their 29-10 victory and made their intentions clear from kick-off.

Stormers v Brumbies, Cape Town

The Stormers claimed a bonus point victory as they ended the Brumbies' winning run (video available only in Australia)

The Brumbies' unbeaten start to the Super Rugby competition came unstuck in Cape Town, with the Stormers running out 35-22 victors. Jake White's men were gunning for a record eighth consecutive away victories and trying to match their previous best start to a season of five straight wins, and they got within three points late in the match but an intercept try to Stormers reserve back Gerhard van den Heever in the 75th minute sealed their fate.

The Brumbies remain top of the Super Rugby table, despite the loss, two points clear of the Chiefs. Their blistering effort to start the year appeared to take its toll with the Brumbies off their game, particularly in the first half.

With the exception of veteran George Smith, who had another standout game, they struggled to find their groove and made uncharacteristic handling errors and missed tackles to trail 22-10 at halftime. They also missed the attacking nous of in-form fullback Jesse Mogg, who was a late withdrawal with a shoulder injury meaning Robbie Coleman started at the back.

Thanks to four successful penalty kicks by Christian Lealiifano, the Brumbies clawed to within three points, 25-22, with 10 minutes left on the clock. That was short-lived, however, with Stormers fullback Joe Pietersen also slotting a penalty two minutes later.

Sunday, March 24

Waratahs v Blues, Sydney

The Waratahs showed great spirit and improved execution in the second half to beat the Blues (video available only in Australia)

New South Wales Waratahs produced a much-improved second half to defeat the Blues in dramatic fashion at Allianz Stadium, Bernard Foley landing a penalty goal after the siren to give the home side hope for the season where there might have been none at half-time.

The Blues seemed set to end their 10-year drought in Sydney when they led at the interval, the visitors having reaped maximum reward from slack play and errors from the Waratahs. But Blues captain Ali Williams agreed when asked after the game whether his side had become "lethargic in the second half", and the home side was better focused having seemingly received a roasting at the interval from coach Michael Cheika.

"We stopped running, we started walking and watching the game," Cheika told host broadcaster Fox Sports after the break. "There's nothing we're doing as far as game's concerned that has to change. We've just got to speed up the game. Play faster, be more urgent and the game will flow for you."

Cheika's roast got the rewards it deserved, with the Waratahs claiming the second win of their campaign.

© ESPN Australia / New Zealand

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