Super Rugby

Waratahs to rest test stars despite slim chance of making Super Rugby finals

Rugby Australia avoided a nightmare scenario of having to decide whether to enforce its new Wallabies resting policy at the likely expense of NSW playing finals, after the Waratahs' season was all but ended by the Brumbies last week.

It means Michael Hooper, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale will all likely miss the match on Friday.

NSW can still make finals but they need a bonus-point victory and several results to fall their way.

Waratahs assistant coach Steve Tandy confirmed players would be rested and backed the next wave to step up.

Blues out of playoff race

The fitting farewell for loose forward Scott Higginbotham and captain Samu Kerevi looked unlikely with the Reds trailing 21-5 after 23 minutes following a sluggish start.

But the hosts clawed back the deficit and secured just their sixth win of the season.

Higginbotham's first-half try, following good work by Kerevi and winger Jock Campbell, made him the first forward to notch 40 Super Rugby tries.

His effort came either side of tries to Blues' pair Tanielu Tele'a and Augustine Pulu after captain Blake Gibson opened the scoring after just three minutes.

Owen Franks poised for return for Crusaders against Rebels

The veteran prop's been struggling with a muscle tear in his right shoulder but has survived what appeared to be a busy training session in Christchurch on Tuesday.

Franks has to get through the full week to be considered for Saturday night's final round robin game against the Rebels. 

"It was great for him to get a good session in today," said assistant coach Ronan O'Gara. "He's tracking along nicely.

"He's been out for a substantial amount of time, so you have to be careful. He's such a prized asset that you've got to make sure you get his return to play right."

Hope, pride and Wallabies duels to drive Waratahs in run home: Beale

Those will be will be the driving forces behind the Waratahs in their last three games, according to Kurtley Beale, despite the fact NSW will need a miracle to make the finals.

The Waratahs crashing to an eighth loss for the season on Saturday night against the Jaguares left them sitting in 12th on the ladder, eight points behind the Brumbies and seven behind the Rebels, and four points outside the top eight.

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.

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.

TJ Perenara returns to lead against Blues

Perenara missed the Hurricanes 29-19 win over the Rebels last Saturday as he had the second of his All Black rest weeks but returns for what will be his 121st appearance for the club.

Wing Ben Lam also returns after a two week absence because of a calf strain while Toby Smith has been named at loosehead prop in in the only other changes to the starting XV.

Lam's inclusion sees Chase Tiatia move to the bench while Richard Judd, who started at halfback against the Rebels, drops out of the match-day squad after he suffered a minor shoulder injury.

Ben Smith may have played last game for Highlanders

Smith suffered the injury in the Highlanders draw against the Chiefs in Dunedin at the weekend.

His injury raises concern in the All Black camp too with utility back Damian McKenzie already ruled out of the World Cup with a serious knee injury.

Highlanders assistant coach Glen Delaney says they're getting used to operating without key players.

"We've had guys dropping out throughout the year (through injury). We lost Aaron Smith for a bit, we had Liam (Squire) out for a bit and Waisake (Naholo's been out for a bit," said Delaney.

All Blacks trio spark Canes to win

Jordie Barrett, brother Beauden and flanker Ardie Savea returned from an All Blacks rest week to fire up the Hurricanes, who could only draw 23-23 with the Chiefs at their last meeting in March.

Jordie reminded All Blacks coach Steve Hansen of his World Cup aspirations as Hansen looks at the makeup of his back three for the tournament in Japan after utility back Damian McKenzie ruptured a knee ligament and was ruled out for the rest of the year.