Super Rugby

Cane back from broken neck

Cane has been named in the reserves for the Chiefs super rugby match against the Blues in Auckland on Saturday night as both sides battle to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The 27-year-old Cane suffered a fracture in a vertebrae on the right side of the neck playing against the Springboks in Pretoria in October.

He wore a brace for three months after surgery and got the all clear to resume contact training early last month.

Emergency surgery found there was no nerve damage and a gradual rehabilitation culminated in a return to contact work last month.

Chiefs breathe life into fading Super Rugby campaign

Weber's second try came after a breath-taking buildup, with replacement back Alex Nankivell bursting out of defence and fullback Solomon Alaimalo punching a hole through midfield before giving off to the pint-sized number nine in the 70th minute.

The Chiefs, who also had tries from flanker Mitch Karpik and Anton Lienert-Brown, held on in a nail-biting finish to keep their slender finals hopes alive.

The Chiefs are in 11th place, three points outside the top eight playoff places.

TJ Perenara returns to lead against Blues

Perenara missed the Hurricanes 29-19 win over the Rebels last Saturday as he had the second of his All Black rest weeks but returns for what will be his 121st appearance for the club.

Wing Ben Lam also returns after a two week absence because of a calf strain while Toby Smith has been named at loosehead prop in in the only other changes to the starting XV.

Lam's inclusion sees Chase Tiatia move to the bench while Richard Judd, who started at halfback against the Rebels, drops out of the match-day squad after he suffered a minor shoulder injury.

Ben Smith may have played last game for Highlanders

Smith suffered the injury in the Highlanders draw against the Chiefs in Dunedin at the weekend.

His injury raises concern in the All Black camp too with utility back Damian McKenzie already ruled out of the World Cup with a serious knee injury.

Highlanders assistant coach Glen Delaney says they're getting used to operating without key players.

"We've had guys dropping out throughout the year (through injury). We lost Aaron Smith for a bit, we had Liam (Squire) out for a bit and Waisake (Naholo's been out for a bit," said Delaney.

All Blacks trio spark Canes to win

Jordie Barrett, brother Beauden and flanker Ardie Savea returned from an All Blacks rest week to fire up the Hurricanes, who could only draw 23-23 with the Chiefs at their last meeting in March.

Jordie reminded All Blacks coach Steve Hansen of his World Cup aspirations as Hansen looks at the makeup of his back three for the tournament in Japan after utility back Damian McKenzie ruptured a knee ligament and was ruled out for the rest of the year.

Highlanders hit top gear in Tokyo

Led by an outstanding performance from lock Jackson Hemopo, the visitors pack laid the platform for their side to run in eight tries in Tokyo on Friday night (NZ time).

The Highlanders forwards obliterated the Sunwolves' scrum at will, even after they had replaced their entire front row, and dominated the contact area to force errors before moving back into play-off contention in fifth place overall on 23 points.

The result also lifted the Highlanders past the Blues into third in the New Zealand conference.

Japan rugby captain slams Sanzaar over Sunwolves dumping

The decision by organiser SANZAAR to revert to a purely southern hemisphere Super Rugby competition was a major blow for Japan and those who champion the growth of the game, as the nation prepares to showcase its development as hosts of the World Cup.

Leitch, who hasn't featured for the Sunwolves this season due to commitments with the national team, believes this is a mistake and that exposure to higher levels of competition is the only way to grow the sport he loves.

"It feels like the strong teams play within themselves and won't let anyone else in," Leitch said.

'No doubt' about Nonu's impact

A milestone night for Waratahs fullback Israel Foloau ended on a sour note as his team went down 32-29 to the Blues in a tense clash in Auckland on Saturday night.

The result lifted the Blues to fourth overall and within sight of second in the New Zealand conference.

With his team trailing 22-21 midway through the second half, it was a loose pass from Folau that ultimately proved decisive, allowing Nonu to charge 40m for his team's final try.

Last-gasp try seals Chiefs win

Tahuriorangi scored in the 79th minute to give the Chiefs their second win of the season, after thumping the Bulls 56-20 in Pretoria last weekend.

A stop-start opening 40 minutes gave the Chiefs a useful 17-6 halftime lead, the visitors scoring twice through Damian McKenzie and Tumua Manu, after a smart dink - and lucky bounce - from Marty McKenzie to go up by 11.

The Jaguares clawed back the deficit with tries from Joaquin Tuculet and Pablo Matera to level the scores at 20-20 at the end of the third quarter.

All Blacks captain Read hurt in comeback

Read was making his first appearance this year after an extended off-season but went down for a lengthy spell of treatment on his right leg after about 20 minutes of the first half at Wellington Regional Stadium.

He limped to the next play, a lineout down field where captain Sam Whitelock called him as the target, and saw out the rest of the first half but was replaced at half-time by coach Scott Robertson.