George Bridge bagged a hat-trick as the Crusaders juggernaut rumbled over the the Stormers 57-24 in their clash in Christchurch on Saturday.
Kieran Read added two tries and Michael Alaalatoa, Pete Samu and Manasa Mataele also made their way to the try line as the Crusaders mounted an eight-try stampede to remain unbeaten after eight matches.
It was a record score for the Crusaders over the Stormers, built on a spree of outlandish offloads that saw the Crusaders race to a 36-3 lead by halftime.
The Stormers, who have now suffered back-to-back losses after falling to the Lions last week, started out determined to record their first ever win in Christchurch.
But the first time the Crusaders were able to mount an attack of consequence, Bridge scored the first of his tries to open the floodgates.
“I don’t think we touched the ball for the first 10-15 minutes but when we did get our hands on it we used it well,” captain Sam Whitelock said, but added it was not a complete performance.
Highlanders vs Sunwolves
In Invercargill, the Highlanders continued their rebound from a disappointing start to the season with a 40-15 bonus-point victory over the Sunwolves on Saturday.
After winning just one of their first four matches, the Highlanders have now won four in a row with the six tries-to-two try win over the Japanese side.
But while the scoreline looked overwhelming, Highlanders captain Ben Smith admitted it was not a perfect performance.
Lions vs Jaguares
In Johannesburg, the Lions encountered unexpectedly tough resistance from the Jaguares before scraping a 24-21 Super Rugby win on Friday.
“We were not hungry enough,” admitted Lions skipper and No. 8 Warren Whiteley.
“The Jaguares were really up for this match while we were not.
“Character got us through in the end and that makes me proud of the team, but to win the title you have to be consistently good.”
Widely regarded as the main non-New Zealand challengers for the title after finishing runners-up last season, the home side led 14-7 by half-time.
Bulls vs Cheetahs
In Pretoria, a minute of magic in a mediocre Super Rugby match earned the Bulls a 20-14 win over the Cheetahs Saturday with former Springbok coach Nick Mallett calling most of the play “unwatchable”.
Centre Jesse Kriel won a South African derby that offered little entertainment or excitement with a try six minutes from time in Pretoria.
Turnover ball in midfield gave the home team another attacking opportunity and Jamba Ulengo and Burger Odendaal made ground before Kriel cut inside to score.
Sharks vs Rebels
In Durban, There were two red and three yellow cards but no tries as the Sharks and Melbourne Rebels drew 9-9 Saturday in a dull Super Rugby match.
Sharks teenage flyhalf Curwin Bosch thought he had won the match after giving his team the lead for the first time with a 78th-minute penalty.
But the Rebels levelled after the full-time hooter sounded in the round 9 game when fullback Reece Hodge calmly slotted an angled, medium-range penalty.
Bosch and Hodge were the only scorers, kicking three penalties each in the least entertaining match at Kings Park stadium this season.
Force vs Chiefs
In Perth, All Blacks flyhalf Aaron Cruden kicked the Waikato Chiefs to a grinding 16-7 win over the determined Western Force on Saturday.
Cruden landed a conversion and three penalty goals from his four attempts to prove the difference after both sides finished with a try apiece.
In winning the Chiefs stretched New Zealand teams’ dominance over Australian opposition to 14-0 in this season’s Super Rugby.
Waratahs vs Kings
In Sydney, the NSW Waratahs slumped to their lowest point in recent memory, going down 26-24 to a determined Kings side, on the brink of Super Rugby extinction.
The Port Elizabeth-based Kings, who are fighting to stay in next year’s competition, fought back from 17-0 down to win only their fourth game in two years.
The Kings, who are likely to be consigned to the scrapheap in 2018 as part of SANZAAR’s restructuring, trailed 17-7 at half-time but scored the next 19 points before the woeful Waratahs scored a last-minute converted consolation try to claim a losing bonus point.
Southern Kings 26
Brumbies vs Hurricanes
The Hurricanes turned Super Rugby’s best defensive team into statues tonight, scoring six second half tries en route to a 56-21 win over the Brumbies.
Vince Aso’s triple treat will draw the headlines but Beauden Barrett set up four of the home side’s eight tries – two of them sublime cross field kicks which left the Brumbies stranded.
The Auckland Blues and Queensland Reds had the bye.
Friday April 28
Highlanders vs Stormers, Dunedin, 5:35pm AEST
Saturday April 29
Chiefs vs Sunwolves, Hamilton, 3:15pm AEST
Reds vs Waratahs, Brisbane, 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au radio
Force vs Lions, Perth, 9:55pm AEST, 7:55pm AWST, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au radio
Sunday April 30
Cheetahs vs Crusaders, Bloemfontein, 1:15am AEST
Jaguares vs Sharks, Buenos Aires, 5:40am AEST
Brumbies vs Blues, Canberra, 4:05pm AEST, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au radio
Byes: Bulls, Hurricanes