Super Rugby

Former NZ 20s midfielder TJ Faiane handed first start for Blues as Rieko Ioane rested

The former New Zealand under-20s midfielder made his Super Rugby debut off the bench two weeks ago against the Crusaders, an occasion that would have come much sooner but for successive season-ending knee injuries.

This week Tana Umaga has thrown Faiane the second five-eighth starting role for the Blues match against the Western Force at Eden Park on Saturday, pushing George Moala out to centre and spelling Rieko Ioane on the bench.

Smith admits he should have taken time off after toilet tryst

Smith will this week celebrate playing his 100th Super Rugby game for the Highlanders when they take on the Melbourne Rebels in Dunedin.

He received a formal warning and stood down from an All Blacks test in October after he was seen entering a toilet cubical with a woman at Christchurch Airport.

He later said he made a huge mistake and apologised to his partner, both his and her families, his teammates and New Zealand fans.

Smith struggled on the All Blacks end of year tour.

Blues bounce Bulls on North Shore

Playing away from their Eden Park fortress, the hosts outscored the South African visitors six tries to two at Albany's North Harbour Stadium.

The Blues captain James Parsons told Sky Sport he was pleased by the large crowd in Albany despite his side's recent results.

"We're extremely grateful. We obviously didn't get the result last week so gave them plenty of reason not to turn up," said Parsons.

"For them to turn up in numbers like this we're absolutely wrapped and also shows that bringing a game to QBE (stadium) is worthwhile."

Highlanders come back in Canberra

Trailing for most of a match that made up for a lack of quality with plenty of commitment, replacement Highlanders prop Aki Seiuli barrelled over under the posts in the 73rd minute for a converted try that proved to be the difference.

The Brumbies then set about utilising their favourite attacking ploy, the driving maul off a lineout, in a frantic finale, but the visitors held firm on three occasions to either draw a penalty or force a turnover to keep their lead intact.

Waratahs overturn 19-point halftime deficit

After losing their last three matches in their worst ever start to the season, Gibson revved up his troops, who were trailing 25-6 at AAMI Park, and they responded with four second-half tries to snatch the victory.

It was sealed in the 80th minute when the Waratahs took advantage of the Rebels losing Colby Fainga'a to a yellow card and Sefa Naivalu down with a dislocated shoulder.

Centre David Horwitz ran on to a Nick Phipps pass and threw a dummy before scooting through some skinny defence for the match-winner.

Crusaders move to top of the table

Barrett, who played four tests for the All Blacks at lock last year, scored a try and impressed with his work rate on attack and defence in the No. 6 jersey as the Crusaders won their fifth successive game.

Digby Ioane, Matt Todd, Luke Romano, Codie Taylor, David Havili and Ben Funnell also crossed for the home side with flyhalf Mitch Hunt slotting four conversions, while replacement Marty McKenzie added another.

RNZ reports wingers Alex Newsome and Chance Peni crossed for the Force with flyhalf Jonno Lance converting both tries and adding a penalty.

Crusaders come from behind to pip Reds

Trailing 20-7 at halftime after losing three players to injury early at Lang Park, the Crusaders rallied brilliantly to keep the Reds scoreless after the break and maintain their perfect record after three rounds of the season.

The Crusaders were down to 14 men in the 68th minute after loose forward Jordan Taufua was sin-binned for a light punch on Reds lock Rob Simmons but replacement scrumhalf Bryn Hall's second try gave the visitors hope with four minutes to play.

Hunt converted Hall's try to bring the Crusaders within a point and the Reds duly crumbled under pressure.

Chiefs too good for defending champs

Tries from lock Brodie Retallick and winger Toni Pulu in the first half as well as 16 points from the faultless boot of fullback Damian McKenzie kept intact the 100 percent record of the twice former champions after three matches.

The Hurricanes had scored in 24 tries and 154 points in their first two outings of the campaign but were unable to reproduce their high-intensity attack in such poor conditions against New Zealand opposition.

Ioane eager for action

Nestled below his right ear the letter K is positioned above a small love heart, and further down a couple of feathers poke out above his collar. Look on the other side of his neck and there are a pair of hands clamped around some rosary beads.

This leads to his arms, both heavily tattooed - as are sections of his ribcage. On his back rest a set of angels' wings, hanging down almost as far as his hips.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd tips the Lions to top the Super Rugby standings this year

That's the assessment of Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd, whose side defeated the Lions in last year's decider.

Boyd doesn't base this year's verdict on a belief that the Lions are far and away the best team in the competition. More that the South African side's soft draw means they should enjoy a home playoff run in Johannesburg.

The Stormers burgled their way into a home quarterfinal, thanks in part to no clashes with any New Zealand franchises. Now it's the Lions' turn.