Super Rugby

Chiefs hold off the Reds

Pita Sowakula, Atu Moli and Etene Nanai-Seturo scored first half tries for the Chiefs, who spent virtually all of the second spell defending as the Reds controlled the ball but were unable to breach the home side's impressive defensive line.

Taniela Tupou scored the only points of the second half with a try from a sustained buildup as the visitors hammered at the Chiefs' line.

The visitors forced the Chiefs to make 240 tackles in the game.

The Reds made less than 90.

Highlanders start All Black Waisake Naholo against Stormers

A week after Naholo was named to face the Lions and then withdrawn, the All Blacks wing has been handed a start against the Stormers in Cape Town on Sunday (1.05am, NZ time).

Naholo goes straight back into the No 14 jersey for the crucial game against the Stormers, with the Highlanders desperate for a win to keep themselves in a playoffs spot before they have a bye week.

"Waisake has come through the week well," Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger said on Friday.

Crusaders could be poised for brand changes as they await research results

Although the Crusaders and NZ Rugby are yet to receive a report from the independent research company they engaged to consult fans and stakeholders following the terror attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, it's understood the Super Rugby club is bracing itself to make major changes.

This could require the club to either change, or amend, its name.

A review of the club's title and imagery was approved soon after the shootings in the city, with Research First asked to provide feedback and recommendations.

Relief, joy for Blues coach Leon MacDonald as Chiefs streak snapped

The Blues' 23-8, four tries to one, victory ended a 15-match unbeaten streak from the Chiefs against their northern neighbours dating back to 2011. It has also breathed life back into the Auckland outfit's faltering season after they had lost their previous four to slip all but out of the playoff race.

It did not look promising when the Blues bumbled their way through the opening quarter to trail 5-0, but eventually they worked into a 10-8 halftime lead and closed the deal well with two crucial second-half tries to forwards Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti.

Crusaders held to draw by Stormers after last-ditch penalty goal

A Jean-Luc du Plessis penalty goal after the hooter salvaged the Stormers a 19-19 draw with the reigning champions in Cape Town on Sunday morning (NZT). 

Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock could only shake his head, knowing the penalty Nic Berry blew for a high shot by replacement prop Oli Jager was touch and go. 

There was no doubt also lingering frustration from the contentious TMO call in the 75th minute, when South African Marius Jonker rubbed out what appeared to be a superb game-clinching try by wing Sevu Reece.

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.

Richie Mo'unga powers Crusaders to bonus point win over Bulls

A week after sitting out their scrappy 21-21 draw with the Sharks, the fleet-footed pivot scored two tries in the opening 22 minutes and put on a play-making clinic to fuel the red and blacks' bonus point win at Loftus Versfeld. 

Romping past the second-placed Bulls propelled the Crusaders seven points clear of the Hurricanes in the New Zealand conference and, with just four regular season matches remaining on their schedule, it was another big stride towards sealing the top seed. 

Hurricanes defensive effort too strong for

Disappointing because the Blues had so many opportunities, especially at five-metre scrums close to the Hurricanes, only to fail to score from any of them.

There were other basic errors that contributed to negating the possession and position advantages the Blues enjoyed. The Hurricanes had to make nearly three tackles to one by the Blues while the home side also looked to move the ball more often but lacked incision and accuracy.

Quade Cooper 'wrecked' by Super Rugby return

 But the controversial first-five still harbours a strong desire to get back into the Wallabies in a World Cup year and confirmed he has been in further contact with the national team's management.

Cooper was sidelined from the competition last year when he was frozen out by Queensland coach Brad Thorn, but the 31-year-old has played more Super Rugby minutes than any of his Rebels teammates, who he joined for 2019.

Set to face the Reds in Melbourne on Friday night, Cooper said he really needed their bye two weeks ago.