Super Rugby Aotearoa

Scott Robertson insists injury-hit Crusaders remain on track

Nor does it need to be pointed out there’s a sense among punters that the chasing pack have closed the gap and the red and blacks are vulnerable.

That’s the result of a heavy loss to the Highlanders, and their narrow golden point win against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Sunday.

Five minutes of carnage in Wellington resulted in the addition of All Blacks Joe Moody and Jack Goodhue to a mounting casualty ward, also fuelling the narrative the 11-times champions aren’t the usual Crusaders.

Crusaders wrap up golden-point win

The scores were level 17-17 at halftime and 27-27 after 80 minutes, both teams each scoring three tries.

The match then went to 10 minutes of extra time, with the win going to the first team to score.

That was the Crusaders, second five-eighth David Havili capitalising on a charge-down to sink a dropped goal after barely a minute.

Last night's game between the Chiefs and Highlanders in Dunedin also went to golden point, Damain McKenzie kicking the match-winning penalty for the visitors.

McKenzie penalty secures Chiefs a golden win

With the scores level at 23-23 after 80 minutes, and after McKenzie had missed a dropped goal and an earlier penalty, the All Blacks fullback nailed a 45m effort to seal the dramatic win.

The victory reverses the result from the last time the two teams clashed, a second round match in February won by a dramatic second-half comeback from the Highlanders.

The Chiefs led 10-5 at halftime after a scrappy first 40 minutes that saw a slew of penalties and opportunities missed.

He's the ultimate professional' - Quinn Tupaea coming of age for Chiefs

The 22-year-old is coming off a breakout performance in the win over the Blues a fortnight ago – a coming of age display for a young man who, until then, had largely under-delivered on his huge potential.

A football player till his last year of primary school, Tupaea was then a star in rugby through Hamilton Boys’ High, captaining the New Zealand Secondary Schools team, then dazzling in his maiden provincial season with Waikato in 2018.

All Black Shannon Frizell re-signs with Highlanders

Frizell has been a standout for franchise since his rookie year in 2018 and has gone on to play 13 tests for the national side.

After establishing himself as the first-choice blindside flanker for the All Blacks in 2020, the 27-year-old has continued his strong form Super Rugby Aotearoa this season and Highlanders coach Tony Brown said extending his contract was a no-brainer.

Strong finish earns Highlanders upset win

The Highlanders had dropped six players, including All Black Josh Ioane, for the match after they breached team protocols last weekend.

Sione Misiloi, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Teariki Ben-Nicholas and Patelesio Tomkinson joined fullback Ioane on the sidelines.

The win came after last week's 30-19 loss to the Hurricanes, and means the Highlanders move off the bottom of the standings and into third place with only their second win so far this season.

Blues name new captain for pivotal clash with Hurricanes at Eden Park

The second placed Blues, with two wins and two losses in their opening four games, will begin the second round of the competition following their 31-16 victory over the Canes in the opening match in Wellington.

Coach Leon MacDonald has made several changes after the disappointing loss to the Chiefs, although most of the Blues squad from that win in Wellington last month will take part this weekend.

Highlanders drop six players for ill-discipline

Coach Tony Brown has refused to say what the breach was but it could not come at a worse time for the Highlanders who are bottom of the competition ladder with just one win from games.

Sione Misiloi, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Teariki Ben-Nicholas and Patelesio Tomkinson will join fullback Ioane on the sidelines.

"There's six guys who are unavailable through letting the team down around their standards -- broke the code that we live by and it's all around their professional habits," Brown told reporters.

Blues skipper Patrick Tuipulotu vows he’s learned lesson over spurned shots

The Blues’ Super Rugby Aotearoa season hit a familiar skid with a second straight defeat to send the ambitious Auckland franchise tumbling back to the pack in the now tight race for second spot, and a likely crack at the Crusaders in the final in Christchurch. They host the Hurricanes at Eden Park on Saturday night to open the second and final round of qualifying games (though the mooted trans-Tasman competition to follow remains shrouded in doubt).

Jordie Barrett's big night out in Dunedin

Barrett converted all three of his own tries and kicked three penalties as the All Blacks utility back led his team to their first win of the season.

The 24-year-old, playing at fullback, put his side's first points on the board after six minutes with a penalty before scoring the opening try three minutes later.

Barrett finished off a straightforward move that saw the Hurricanes win their own line-out and move the ball through the backs before crossing the Highlanders' line.