Super Rugby
Super Rugby Talking Points and Video Wrap: Round 7
Sam Bruce and Brittany Mitchell
March 30, 2015
The Hurricanes were sharp against the Rebels (Australia only)

The Hurricanes maintained their winning start to the season, while the Chiefs overcame ill-discipline and the Highlanders impressed with their power game; the Waratahs won despite poor handling while the Reds and the Force will lament missed opportunities against South African opponents, and the Bulls showed against the Crusaders that they may yet prove finals contenders.

Hurricanes 36-12 Rebels

The Hurricanes scored five tries to none but their defence will have most pleased coach Chris Boyd in their sixth straight win of 2015. The undefeated competition leaders were made to survive a fierce Rebels onslaught midway through the second half, when the final result was anything but certain, proving they may finally have the necessary mental strength to be true championship contenders. Boyd will also be thrilled with his side's ability to recognise turnover ball, and use it accordingly, with the Hurricanes punishing the Rebels' errors on more than one occasion. With Beauden Barrett serving one of his mandatory New Zealand Rugby rest weeks, James Marshall provided an admirable fill-in at No.10 while veteran back-rower Victor Vito is playing some of the best rugby of his career.

Reds 17-18 Lions

Reds 17-18 Lions (Australia only)

The Lions failed to win any of their first three matches at home and appeared to be heading for another forgettable season at the foot of the table. But four weeks later, they find themselves heading home after three memorable wins on the road. They were made to work hard for their third victory in Australasia but held on, charging down a late Quade Cooper drop goal attempt to secure all four points. The win was again built on the work of their relentless back-row trio with skipper Warren Whiteley again leading the way defensively with a game-high 15 tackles. The Lions seem to play their best rugby without the ball, as they enjoyed just 42% possession and a lowly 39% territory but still emerged victorious. The Reds, meanwhile, looked like a team who'd only just come together. Cooper had a few nice touches in his first start for 2015 but there was also plenty of rustiness in the team's execution.

Chiefs 37-27 Cheetahs

Chiefs 37-27 Cheetahs (Australia only)

The Chiefs turned it on with some smooth handling in their return from South Africa, but their bonus-point win was anything but easy as they were pushed constantly by a hard-hitting Cheetahs team. Despite a 10-point bonus-point victory, coach Dave Rennie won't be happy with the Chiefs two yellow cards and the huge penalty count that kept the visitors in the match. The Chiefs were made to work hard for their victory as the Cheetahs proved a difficult side to put down, especially with the penalty count going the way of the visitors. Despite their ill-discipline, the hosts managed to see off a trying two-minute period when they were forced to play with only 13-men but conceded only Boom Prinsloo's converted try; meanwhile, they scored two converted tries when they had the one-man advantage in the second half. A great spectacle, the Chiefs will be disappointed by some poor errors, while the Cheetahs will continue to search for their first win on their Australasian tour.

The Chiefs' Sam Cane drives Andrew Horrell over for a try © Getty Images

Highlanders 39-21 Stormers

Highlanders 39-21 Stormers (Australia only)

The Highlanders wasted little time dwelling on their narrow loss to the Hurricanes last week, with Jamie Joseph's side negotiating a tricky assignment against the Stormers with ease. A tight opening 20 minutes eventually gave way to the home side's power-running game out wide, with the likes of Waisake Naholo, Patrick Osborne and Malakai Fekitoa proving more than a handful in attack. Naholo picked up a double as he first swooped on a poor Juan de Jongh pass and, in a crucial play right on the stroke of half-time, he regathered a deflected Aaron Smith kick and flattened Stormers fullback Cheslin Kolbe in a show of brute force. The 24-7 half-time lead was always going to be tough to run down, and although, Aaron Smith was sin-binned, the hosts were never really in any trouble. The win ensures the Highlanders keep pace with the Hurricanes and Chiefs in the New Zealand conference while the Stormers have now lost two straight.

The Highlanders were tight and produced the highest scoring game so far this season © Getty Images

Waratahs 23-11 Blues

Waratahs 23-11 Blues (Australia only)

The Waratahs looked to have turned the corner against the Brumbies last week, but their shaky handling returned on Saturday night as they survived a major scare from the winless Blues. The defending champions looked to be well on their way to a comfortable win when Nick Phipps crossed after just eight minutes, but mistakes, and the whistle of referee Jaco Peyper, soon tested the patience of the disappointing 16,000 crowd. The Blues deserved plenty for the credit for their resilient goal-line defence and an upset looked a genuine possibility when Francis Saili crossed midway through the second half. But in one of the few positives for Waratahs coach Michael Cheika, the defending champions rallied and finished the stronger with a smartly worked try six minutes from time. The handling had been poor throughout but offloads from Will Skelton, Israel Folau, Stephen Hoiles and Tolu Latu showed just how dangerous NSW can be when they get it right.

Bulls 31-19 Crusaders

Bulls 31-19 Crusaders (Australia only)

The Bulls built on their 64% success rate over the Crusaders in Pretoria and came out of the blocks firing on Saturday night with a quick double putting the visitors in an unenviable position. Handre Pollard showed he is become "the man" as he became the first player this season to reach 100 points, and Grant Hattingh showed the depth of their bench when he charged 50 metres to score a fantastic intercept try that dashed the Crusaders' hopes. The Crusaders produced a huge 557-metres and Dan Carter had a great night with the boot, but they but were undone by 13 penalties and 19 turnovers and struggled to find any rhythm until Nemani Nadolo found the ball and some space to produce a brilliant sideline try.

Sharks 15-9 Force

Sharks 15-9 Force (Australia only)

The Force were clearly the better side, but that will be no consolation for Michael Foley as his side slumped to their sixth loss in a row and fell to 13th place on the ladder after having two tries disallowed and seen Kyle Godwin drop the ball cold when he had only to catch the pill and fall over the line late in the piece. The early loss of captain Sam Wykes to concussion didn't help matters for the Force and despite their strong efforts, they will return to Perth empty handed and have to wait two weeks for another chance at a win. The Sharks climbed to top spot in the South African conference and sit third in the Super Rugby standings, but they are yet to convince that they are title contenders.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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