Super Rugby
Round 16 talking points and video highlights
Brittany Mitchell and Sam Bruce
June 1, 2015

You can never write the Crusaders off. Never. Just when it looked like the seven-time champions were done and dusted for 2015, the red-and-black juggernaut found form to hammer competition favourites, the Hurricanes. It may still prove too little, too late; but should they scrape into the post-season, this result shows they've still got the ability to mix it with the best. There were also wins for the Brumbies, Sharks, Highlanders, Reds, Lions and Stormers. Read on for a full review of Round 16 and watch video highlights of every match.

Crusaders 35-18 Hurricanes (Australia only)

Crusaders 35-18 Hurricanes

The Crusaders came out firing in Nelson to produce their best game of the season and hand the Hurricanes just their second defeat of the year. Missing All Blacks Israel Dagg, Kieran Read, Colin Slade, Sam Whitelock, Joe Moody and Ryan Crotty though injury, the Crusaders were expected to stuggle. But Dan Carter's return to fly-half sparked the Crusaders and they delivered a wonderful attacking display to upset their New Zealand rivals. Carter kicked six from seven goals, while also setting up his backline with ease to help secure the four-try bonus-point. The Hurricanes struggled throughout the night, especially in the lineout where they lost seven on their own throw - one of which lead to the Crusaders' first try. They reduced the Crusaders' lead to just one point seconds after half-time, but the Hurricanes couldn't hold back the home side's backline and winger Nafi Tuitavake and flanker Matt Todd got onto the end of two amazing breaks. Winger Nemani Nadolo then chased down a cross field-kick to score the bonus-point try 10 minutes before full-time to keep the Crusaders' slim play-offs hopes alive.

Brumbies 22-16 Bulls

Brumbies 22-16 Bulls (Australia only)
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The Brumbies secured a six-point victory over the Bulls and drew level with the Waratahs on the Australian conference ladder to keep their playoff dreams alive. The Brumbies will be happy for their hard-fought win but they now have to navigate their way through the rest of the season without Wallabies lock Sam Carter, who suffered a serious knee injury. Things didn't go to plan early for the Brumbies, with Christian Leali'ifano missing two penalty attempts before Carter was forced from the field, but replacement Jordan Smiler proved his worth scoring the Brumbies' first, and his maiden, try. The Brumbies were made to fight hard for the win with the Bulls also desperate to keep their play-offa chances alive; the visitors took the lead early in the second half and had plenty of opportunities through the Brumbies' poor discipline, but the Bulls struggled to break the home side's defence and conceded 18 turnovers of their own. A double from Henry Speight gave the Brumbies a six-point buffer and the hosts held their nerve in the final fiery minutes; the visitors pressed hard to steal the win, but poor handling and decision making proved costly for the Bulls as they slid to third on the South African conference.

Sharks 25-21 Rebels

Sharks 25-21 Rebels (Australia only)
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The Rebels may have picked up their first win in New Zealand this season, but they'll have to wait at least another year for a victory in South Africa after a four-point loss to the Sharks. It was always going to be tough for the visitors after prop Laurie Weeks was red-carded for a flurry of punches on Jannie du Plessis - the front-rower falling for the niggle of his experienced rival - but the Rebels did well to stay with the Sharks from that point, skipper Scott Higginbotham scoring a try in each half to help keep his side in the contest. Two tries in seven minutes after half-time took the Sharks out to what looked like a comfortable lead 22-7 lead but the Rebels rallied and closed the gap to set up a thrilling finish. But it would prove to tough a mountain to climb, the Rebels claiming just a solitary bonus point from their two-week tour of South Africa while the Sharks made it back-to-back wins after last week's triumph in Brisbane.

Highlanders 36-9 Chiefs

Highlanders 36-9 Chiefs (Australia only)
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The Highlanders all but assured their play-offs spot by hammering a woeful Chiefs side on a chilly night in Invercargill, aggressive in defence and forcing the visitors into some simple errors as they scored four tries to nil. Quick to put the visitors on the back foot, the Highlanders slotted two quick penalty goals before wing Patrick Osborne beat four defenders on his way to the try-line. Winger Waisake Naholo displayed his pace and power to go over three minutes into the second half, while the Chiefs were unlucky to be disallowed a try after brothers Damian and Marty McKenzie had combined; Marty kicking the ball through for Damian to pounce on, only for the TMO to rule he'd lost control. Poor handling really hurt the visitors, as they produced 27 turnovers, and the Highlanders capitalised as they crossed for their two final tries. Lima Sopoaga enjoyed a fine evening in front of the sticks, and the win sees the Highlanders claim second place on the New Zealand conference while the Chiefs face a tough race to remain in the top six.

Force 10-32 Reds

Force 10-32 Reds (Australia only)
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Reds fans are rejoicing in the return of Quade Cooper after he spearheaded a 22-point rout of the Force - a result that will likely leave the Perth side with the dreaded wooden spoon. The backline jelled early with James O'Connor making a quick early break, but it was Cooper who dotted the ball down first to give the Reds a healthy lead. Both sides hit hard in defence, and there was plenty of niggle, but Cooper again produced magic to put Lachie Turner over in the corner for his first. Dane Haylett-Petty kept the Force in the contest with a try from a quick tap but it would only be a moment of respite in an otherwise poor night for the hosts. The Reds' best try came six minutes into the second half as Turner finished a move that saw the ball pass through what seemed like every Reds player before the winger touched down in the corner. Cooper's combination with scrum-half Will Genia was a feature of the match, and will likely have been of interest to Wallabies coach Michael Cheika. Going back-to-back over the Force for the first time since 2012, the Reds are now seven points clear of their hosts at the foot of the table.

Stormers 42-12 Cheetahs

Stormers 42-12 Cheetahs (Australia only)
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The Stormers have set up what could be a conference-deciding clash with the Lions in Round 17 after they became the latest side to pile the pain on the Cheetahs. The Stormers were always likely to have too much firepower for the Cheetahs, and so it proved as they crossed for five tries in probably their best attacking effort of the season. South Africa Sevens star Seabelo Senatla starred for the home side, the diminutive winger crossing for a double in a performance that coach Allister Coetzee likely wished he'd had access through for a much larger chunk of the season. The Stormers achieved 65 and 68% dominance of possession and territory, respectively, while the Cheetahs missed 26 tackles in a poor defensive showing. The points were all but secured by half-time, before the hosts added three more tries after the break to run out comfortable winners. Wins in their final two games will secure the conference title and, possibly, a week off depending on what transpires in Australia.

Lions 27-22 Waratahs

Lions 27-22 Waratahs (Australia only)
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The Waratahs' discipline was called into question after their bruising win over the Crusaders, and it's likely to be a topic for conversation again after they were forced to play with 14 men for 20 minutes against the Lions. Winger Rob Horne and back-rower Jacques Potgieter both spent time in the sin-bin, and the Lions scored 17 points in their absence. Horne subsequently accepted a guilty plea for a lifting tackle, and he has now been suspended for three weeks alongside Tolu Latu and Will Skelton - the forwards suspended for four and two weeks, respectively, after the win over the Crusaders. To their credit, the Waratahs worked their way back into the contest from 27-10 down; but they were unable to find any points inside the final 20 minutes. The win keeps the Lions' semi-final hopes alive but they will need to beat the Stormers next week before a final-round bye. The Waratahs, meanwhile, head to Bloemfontein for a date with the Cheetahs, against whom anything other than a bonus-point win will be deemed a failure.

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