Stormers. Crusaders remain unbeaten

Stormers, Crusaders remain unbeaten

South Africa's Stormers joined the Crusaders as the only undefeated teams in this season's Super Rugby competition after ending the Chiefs' unbeaten start, while Japan's Sunwolves broke through for their first win this weekend.


Ahead of governing body SANZAAR's much-anticipated announcement of Super Rugby's future make-up, the Stormers downed the Chiefs 34-26 in Cape Town on Saturday to avenge their quarter-final thrashing by the New Zealanders at the same venue last season.

SANZAAR on Sunday announced that the 18-team competition would be streamlined to a 15-team format, with two South African teams and one from Australia to be axed.

Defending champions the Hurricanes closed to within two points of the Crusaders in the New Zealand conference with a 38-28 home win over the Waratahs on Friday, while the Crusaders had the weekend off.

The Sunwolves edged out South Africa's Bulls 21-20 in Tokyo on Saturday for their first win of the campaign and their second victory ever in their second season of Super Rugby.

Fellow competition new boys, Argentina's Jaguares, went down narrowly 18-13 to the Sharks in Durban on Saturday, while the ACT Brumbies demolished the Queensland Reds 43-10 the same day to stay top of the Australian conference.

Sonny Bill Williams made his long-awaited return from injury but could not save the Auckland Blues from a 26-20 defeat by fellow Kiwis the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.

Australia's Western Force won the battle of the threatened franchises with a free-scoring 46-41 win over South Africa's Southern Kings in Perth on Sunday, while the Golden Lions, Central Cheetahs and Melbourne Rebels all had weekend byes.

The Stormers put one of their darkest Super Rugby days behind them by knocking over the Chiefs in a thriller.

Chiefs humiliated Stormers 60-21 in a quarter-final at Newlands stadium last season and this was the first meeting of the franchises since then.

"We had not forgotten that thrashing," said Stormers skipper and flanker Siya Kolisi.

"Conceding 60 points in a knockout match was a deeply embarrassing experience for all of us and we vowed not to let it happen again."

The Hurricanes weathered a second-half comeback from the Waratahs that extended Australia's Super Rugby misery against New Zealand teams.

The Hurricanes scored six tries to four, including a brace for Ngani Laumape, and raced to a 33-7 half-time lead that provided enough buffer to see off the resurgent Waratahs.

The defending champions' win means Australian Super Rugby teams' record against New Zealand opposition this season is 12-0.

Yu Tamura nailed a late penalty as the Sunwolves stunned the Bulls.

The struggling Sunwolves had looked close to tumbling to their sixth defeat in as many games after conceding a try to Travis Ismaiel after 64 minutes to leave the home side trailing by nine points and needing two scores.

But roared on by a Tokyo crowd, Filo Tiatia's side hit back with a converted try by Takaaki Nakazuru followed by Tamura's penalty in the 74th minute.

The Sharks ground out victory over the Jaguares in a stop-start match of continual handling errors.

The Brumbies totted up 33 unanswered points in the second half after being held 10-10 by the Reds at half-time.

It was the Brumbies' 10th consecutive Australian derby win, while the dismal Reds slumped to their sixth-straight defeat this season.

Williams, out of action since picking up an Achilles injury playing sevens at the Rio Olympics eight months ago, came off the bench with 18 minutes to play.

The Blues' code-hopping star -- who had not played 15s rugby since the 2015 World Cup final -- twice used his trademark offloads as the Highlanders defence hung on for the win. 

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