Super Rugby has returned in all its glory in 2015 and here we take a look at the third round of games, focusing on the New Zealand franchises with the upcoming British & Irish Lions tour in mind.
Auckland-based Blues suffered a narrow 13-10 defeat to the Lions, to sour legendary hooker Keven Mealamu’s record 163rd Super Rugby appearance.
The 35-year-old was part of the All Blacks team that enjoyed a series win over the British & Irish Lions in 2005, but watched helplessly as wing Ruan Combrinck scored the game’s decisive try at North Harbour Stadium.
Blues had established a 10-3 half-time lead with New Zealand back row Jerome Kaino dotting down, but the Lions roared back to win the round four clash.
Two late penalties from Marty Banks secured Highlanders a surprise 20-17 win over compatriots the Chiefs.
The Chiefs’ unbeaten start to the season looked set to continue after overturning a 14-3 half-time deficit to establish a lead courtesy of two penalty tries.
But Banks climbed off the bench to strike twice in the final five minutes and seal victory in Hamilton.
The Stormers continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 29-13 win over Sharks with a supreme second-half display.
A penalty try, converted by replacement Kurt Coleman, followed by a successful penalty with seven minutes remaining on the clock sealed victory.
Two-time champions Brumbies saw off Western Force 27-15 in a four-try showing. Rory Arnold, Joe Tomane and Ben Alexander crossed the whitewash in the opening quarter of the match and scrum-half Nick White added a further score after the interval.
Reigning champions New South Wales Waratahs brushed aside Queensland Reds 23-5 in an error-strewn affair – Bernard Foley contributing 18 points.
And South Africa fly-half Handre Pollard inspired the Bulls to a 39-20 defeat of Cheetahs, adding a try to five penalties, three conversions and a drop goal.
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