Super Rugby
Stormers out in front as Chiefs falter
Sam Bruce and Brittany Mitchell
March 9, 2015
The Highlanders opened the weekend with a shock win in Hamilton (Australia only)

The Stormers and Hurricanes are the only unbeaten sides in Super Rugby this season after the Chiefs were shock victims in round four. The Chiefs fell to a gutsy Highlanders side in a topsy-turvy encounter that produced two penalty tries while the Stormers shook off any remaining doubts over their title credentials with an impressive 27-13 win over the Sharks. There were also wins for the Brumbies, Waratahs, Lions and Bulls. Read on for a full review of each game and watch video highlights on the right-hand side of this page.

Chiefs 17-20 Highlanders

The Chiefs' perfect start to the season was killed off in a matter of minutes on Friday night, after Highlanders replacement Marty Banks kicked two late penalties to secure an unlikely win for the Dunedin-based side. The preceding 75 minutes hadn't at all gone to script with the Highlanders leading at the break, only to find themselves in arrears for much of the second stanza following two penalty tries. The twin five-pointers - for rolling maul and scrum infringements - had masked what had been an otherwise poor performance from the Chiefs; the two-time champions proving their own worst enemy as they squandered much of their territorial dominance. And Banks had the composure to make them pay, the ITM Cup star with Tasman keeping a cool head to secure the Highlanders a second straight win.

Brumbies 27-15 Force

The Brumbies were troubled only rarely by the Force (Australia only)

The Brumbies remain unbeaten against Australian opposition this season, the two-time champions establishing a strong footing in the Australian conference; they will have a chance to greater enhance that position when they face the Waratahs in Sydney in round six. Friday night's win was built on a strong first-half in which they scored three tries; halves Nic White and Matt Toomua at the centre of everything as the hosts went to the break 19-8 up. The Force mounted a comeback of sorts in the second half, and they were a much improved side to the one smashed by the Hurricanes in round three. Winger Nick Cummins bagged a try in his return, but the Brumbies' Joe Tomane - seven runs for 90 metres - impressed most on the flanks in a match that carried significance for the Wallabies outside backs.

Blues 10-13 Lions

The Lions won despite the Blues dominating possession and territory (Australia only)

It may have been Keven Mealamu's big night, but it appears the Lions didn't get the message as the visitors stole the limelight with their first win of the season. The Lions were only rarely in control of the ball in an attacking position, with only 26% of territory, and they found some spark and ignited their backline only when replacement half-back Francois de Klerk entered the game. De Klerk made plenty of sniping breaks within minutes of entering the game, and started the movement that resulted in an impressive try by Lions' wing Ruan Combrink. The Blues had 61% possession but they lacked polish and finish, and could only watch as their chance for a first win of the campaign was stolen from under them.

Reds 5-23 Waratahs

The Waratahs got the points but neither team impressed (Australia only)

While the Waratahs struggled to emulate their 2014 championship-selves, the Reds struggled to get even the basics of the night right. It appeared the Reds were attempting to hoodwink the Tahs before the match even started, with several late changes, including dropping James Horwill through injury from the side and moving James O'Connor to fullback with Nick Frisby taking on the fly-half role. It seemed the Reds' bad luck before the match translated to a bad start, the hosts making several unforgivable mistakes, including a bombed penalty kick for the sideline from Lachie Turner that dribbled over the deadball line. But the Reds weren't alone in their poor display, with the Tahs conceding 17 penalties and 18 turnovers. In a poor affair neither team impressed.

Cheetahs 20-39 Bulls

The Bulls ended the Cheetahs' unbeaten start to the season (Australia only)

Handre Pollard is one of the brightest young stars in world rugby, and he again underlined his quality in a virtuoso performance against the Cheetahs on Saturday night. The Springboks No.10 amassed 29 of the Bulls' 39 points as the three-time champions picked up a valuable win on the road in Bloemfontein. Pollard scored a try and kicked three conversions, five penalties and a drop goal in the kind of effort that will have had Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer jumping for joy. The visitors powered to a 23-6 half-time lead before the Cheetahs rallied and closed the gap to just six points at the hour mark. But Pollard steadied the Bulls with a penalty and drop goal, and Jan Serfontein iced the win with a try nine minutes from time.

Stormers 29-13 Sharks

The Stormers have proven themselves genuine title candidates (Australia only)

The Stormers were written off ahead of the season but they sit clear at the top of the Super Rugby ladder, after four straight victories, and must now be taken seriously as genuine title contenders. Their latest triumph over the Sharks was built on the back of a powerful scrum with prop Steven Kitsoff upstaging his more-fancied front-row opponents to claim man-of-the-match honours. Skipper Duane Vermeulen later praised his "magnificent" tight-five but it was winger Johnny Kotze who provided the match's big highlight. The Stormers winger chased through what looked to be a relatively harmless kick only for the ball to take a horror bounce on which Kotze pounced. The 16-point win sets up a mouth-watering clash with the Chiefs in round five; the New Zealanders heading to Newlands after their shock loss to the Chiefs.

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