Super Rugby

Warriors stick with winning side

The side nabbed their second NRL win in a row at the weekend beating Parramatta 22-10 in Auckland - the win lifted the Warriors to 3-3 for the season

Coach Stephen Kearney said this week's match up will mark Blake Ayshford's 150th career appearance.

"When you look at the rest of our outside backs he's not the same sort of athlete. Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu'a are big men, Sol Kata is really powerful and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has so much speed. Aysh is a lot different but he's reliable and does a tremendous job for us.

"It's great to see him getting to this mark."

Three teams to go from Super Rugby

The restructuring comes after widespread criticism of the first season of the 18-team format, which was introduced in 2016 after Argentina's Jaguares and the Sunwolves of Japan, joined the competition and the Port Elizabeth-based Kings returned.

SANZAAR has left it to the national rugby unions involved to announce the teams to be cut, Australia's Perth-based Western Force and South Africa's Kings and Cheetahs widely considered the most vulnerable franchises.

Blues squander lead in loss to Highlanders

Trailing 20-13 at halftime, the vastly-improved hosts slowly wrestled control of a clash between the two bottom-placed teams in the New Zealand Conference and retained the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy.

One of the few highlights of a scoreless second half for the Blues was the debut of cross code star Sonny Bill Williams, ending eight months out of rugby after rupturing his Achilles tendon at the Rio Olympics.

All Blacks midfield back Williams made one lightning break and offload but otherwise had little impact as the Highlanders dominated the closing stages.

Scintillating double not enough as Chiefs stumble

The Stormers remain unbeaten and usurp the Crusaders at the top of the table.

The Crusaders are second, with the Hurricanes third and Chiefs fourth.

Pulu's first for the Chiefs has likely sewn up the Try of the Season award, while wing James Lowe also crossed the line in what was a highly skilful display from the visitors.

South Africa's Stormers showed heroic defence at times and managed four tries of their own through number eight Sikhumbuzo Notshe, flanker Siya Kolisi, first-five Robert du Preez and fullback SP Marais, who also kicked two huge penalties.

Five changes to Chiefs team to meet Stormers

 Both sides are unbeaten heading into the clash.

From the side that beat the Bulls in Hamilton last weekend, Kane Hames and Atu Moli are promoted from the bench to start alongside veteran hooker Hika Elliot in the front row. Taranaki loose-forward Lachlan Boshier returns to the 23 to replace the injured Sam Cane in jersey 7.

There are two changes to the backline with explosive Counties Manukau back Toni Pulu returning from a hamstring strain to start on the right wing and fan favourite Stephen Donald moving from the bench to claim jersey 12.

Smith and Squire back for the Highlanders

Smith was a late scratching for the Highlanders last weekend after suffering a hamstring strain during the warmups.

He had previously missed two games with concussion.

Squire has been out of action since suffering a knee injury in the second round in early March.

Preparing for what will no doubt be a physical encounter coach Tony Brown has restored Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Alex Ainley and Elliot Dixon to the starting eight.

Squire makes his return after four weeks on the sideline and will make an impact from the bench.

Calls made for South Africa to be cut from Super Rugby

The Western Force is reportedly set to be the Australian franchise axed from next year's Super Rugby competition if SANZAAR pushes forward with a proposed restructure.

An announcement on the restructure is expected this week.

McGrath said the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) needs to protect its' five Super Rugby teams even if it means forging a new competition with sides from New Zealand and Asia.

McGrath oversaw the introduction of the Melbourne Rebels into Super Rugby in 2011, Australia's fifth side.

Chiefs lose Fa'auli for 4 weeks, Cane awaits clearance

Cane has been included in the 27-man squad to tour South Africa and Australia over the next three rounds however they won't be available for next weekend's match against the Stormers in Cape Town.

If cleared to tour, Cane will fly to South Africa on Thursday and begin preparing for the Chiefs' following match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

The news was bleaker for prop Nepo Laulala who, like Cane, was forced from the field with a head knock suffered during the 28-12 defeat of the Bulls in Hamilton on Saturday.

Waratahs to put Crusaders to the sword

The Waratah host the unbeaten competition leaders in Sydney on Sunday with their finals hopes in the balance after a ho-hum two-from-five start.

But skipper Michael Hooper hopes last week's thrilling comeback win over the Melbourne Rebels, after trailing 25-6 at halftime, will prove the spark that revived the Tahs' 2017 fortunes.

"The comeback gave it that extra little bit for the viewers," the champion flanker said at Saturday's captain's run at Allianz Stadium.

"That's how we want to play. Look at our stats, it's sharing the workload. That's Waratahs footy.

Blues beat Western Force

The Force came out wanting to prove their worth as speculation around the club's future in Super Rugby surrounds the team.

The Force got on the scoreboard first with a penalty, before a try to Richie Arnold on debut had them leading the Blues 8-0.

The Blues lacked possession early in the game but started clicking into gear.

A couple of late tries at the end of the first half to Akira Ioane and Matt Duffie put the Blues ahead 12-8.