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Lions Scout: Sonny Bill returns and Barrett brothers star in Super Rugby

Lions Scout: Sonny Bill returns and Barrett brothers star in Super Rugby

With The British & Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand creeping ever closer, we continue to keep an eye on the five New Zealand franchises in Super Rugby.

Williams will look to prove his fitness ahead of the Lions’ Tour in two months time.
 

With The British & Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand creeping ever closer, we continue to keep an eye on the five New Zealand franchises in Super Rugby.

Warren Gatland’s side will play all five sides on the ten-match Tour, as well as contesting three highly-anticipated Test matches against New Zealand.

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The Crusaders had a bye this week, but the Hurricanes, Chiefs, Highlanders and Blues were all in action on an
exhilarating weekend with plenty of tries.

BANKS THE STAR AS SONNY BILL RETURNS

Sonny Bill Williams made his long-awaited return to Super Rugby, eight months after suffering an injury while playing in the Olympics Sevens tournament, but fly-half Marty Banks stole the headlines as the Highlanders edged past the Blues 26-20.

Banks scored 16 points, including four penalties and two conversions,  to help his side down the Blues for the second time this season following their Round Three 16-12 victory.

 

Loved being back on the field tonight with my @BluesRugbyTeam brothers, congratulations @Highlanders 2 good tonight.

— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) April 8, 2017


New Zealand prop Charlie Faumuina scored the first try of the night for the Blues, but dangerous full-back Ben Smith hit back for the hosts.

The Blues led 20-12 at the break, but they could not sustain their first-half display after the break and All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa powered his way over in the second half for a crucial try,

Williams, part of the New Zealand side which won the 2015 World Cup, came on in the second half and will look to prove his fitness ahead of the Lions’ Tour in two months time.

BARRETT BROTHERS INSPIRE HURRICANES

Beauden Barrett picked up two yellow cards for the Hurricanes but that didn’t stop his side earning a highly-entertaining 38-28 victory against Waratahs on Friday.

The New Zealand fly-half and his brother Jordie combined for two tries and 18 points, as they moved to within two points off New Zealand conference leaders the Crusaders.

The Hurricanes made a breathless start, scoring three tries in the first 11 minutes through Ngani Laumape and the Barrett brothers.
 

@Hurricanesrugby – good show last night – kids loved the atmosphere – player autograph session was great pic.twitter.com/pz6a8BzBPn

— Richard Blair (@RichardBlair_NZ) April 7, 2017


But the Waratahs came back into it through Ned Hanigan before the hosts pulled clear again through Wes Goosen and Mark Abbott.

Waratahs came back strongly in the second half, scoring through Jake Gordon and Andrew Kellaway, but the Hurricanes’ lightening start ensured victory was theirs.

CHIEFS GET CAUGHT IN A STORM

Last season, the Chiefs left Newlands with a handsome 60-21 victory in the quarter-finals, but the Stormers exacted revenge this time around with a 34-26 win.

New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden scored eight points, but it was not enough as the Stormers’ fine season continued.
 

.@THESTORMERS congratulations on a great game and a great performance ?

— Chiefs Rugby (@ChiefsRugby) April 8, 2017


The Chiefs scored two fine first-half tries through winger Toni Pulu, the first a superb length-of-the-field move – showcasing New Zealand rugby at its best.

But Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Siya Kolisi, fly-half Robert du Preez and SP Marais all crossed for the hosts, ensuring they moved clear of the South African Conference – leaving the Chiefs third behind the Hurricanes in their group.
 

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