Super Rugby

Dagg back as Crusaders ring changes

He's been named on the wing for Saturday's clash with the Rebels in Melbourne.

The outside back played a half game of club rugby a fortnight ago and declared himself fit to play for the Crusaders, but he was left out of last weekend's win over the Chiefs in Suva.

Dagg hasn't played Super Rugby since March after injuring his knee against the Reds and now has two games to prove his match fitness before the All Blacks first test of the year against Samoa.

Piers Francis cleared to play against the Chiefs

Francis suffered a head knock playing against the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday morning.

Blues doctor Dr Stephen Kara confirmed that Francis had not developed any further symptoms in a range of regular testing under the protocol since including a full neurological exam and neuro-cognitive testing via SCAT scan. He further tested clear after a return to training and completed the other graduated protocol steps to play with no recurrence of any symptoms.

Tahs keep playoff hopes alive

Waratahs fullback Israel Folau was back to his dominant best, scoring a try in each half, with Nick Phipps, Dean Mumm, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper, Damien Fitzpatrick and Bryce Hegarty also crossing for the home side.

Replacement back Jonah Placid scored a brace of tries in the second half for the Rebels, who battled hard but were over-run in the final quarter and slumped to a ninth loss of the season.

Hurricanes rack up 61 points in win over Cheetahs

Teaming up with midfield accomplice Ngani Laumape, Aso crossed once in the first half and twice after the break in the nine-try rout at Wellington Regional Stadium, the home side's biggest winning margin over the South Africans.

Vaea Fifita, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Ben Lam and Leni Apisai also crossed for the Hurricanes, who were back to their enterprising best after being humbled by the competition-leading Canterbury Crusaders last week.

Chiefs' Ngatai suffers fresh headaches

The one-time All Black has only just returned to the field after a year out with concussion symptoms, making his return 11 days ago in the Chiefs' 46-17 win over the Reds in New Plymouth.

But the headaches that plagued the 26-year-old throughout 2016 returned after training, with no apparent cause.

RNZI reports Ngatai will sit out the Chiefs' match against the Crusaders in Fiji, with Anton Lienert-Brown moving over to second-five and Sam McNicol slotting into centre.

Chiefs hoping to match Crusaders power

The Crusaders continued their momentum last weekend with a clinical 20-12 win over the Hurricanes, extending their unbeaten streak to 11 matches.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie acknowledges his side, who are second in the conference, will have to match the red and blacks' power in the set piece on Friday night.

"That's where they destroyed the Canes and traditionally they have always been strong up front with an All Black-ladened tight five to deal to your scrum," he said.

Crusaders continue to set the benchmark

Keeping the defending champions tryless for the first time since 2014, the Crusaders put on a clinic at the set-piece and nabbed the only five-pointer of the game, via openside Matt Todd, off the back of a maul.

They then proceeded to shut out the Hurricanes with frighteningly high line speed in defence, nullifying the potency of Beauden Barrett and company, and through the go-forward of an all-Test tight five.

Late Fekitoa try secures win for Highlanders

Both sides finished with 14 players in conditions that stifled running rugby as the Highlanders extended their winning run to seven matches, while the Bulls' play-off hopes now look ever more remote.

Fullback Matt Faddes scored the opening try for the visitors, who had to play the final 16 minutes a man down after a red card for wing Waisake Naholo for a reckless tackle with the game evenly poised at 10-10.

Crusaders hope to tame Hurricane Barrett

The Crusaders lead the New Zealand conference, and overall standings, on 46 points with the Waikato Chiefs on 42 and the Hurricanes, who have played one less game, on 38.

Despite having won all 10 of their games so far this season, the Crusaders see match-ups against the Hurricanes on Saturday and the Chiefs in Suva on May 19 as the true examination of their title credentials.

"I suppose the next two weeks, the local derbies against the Chiefs and the Hurricanes, is the real test," Crusaders assistant coach Leon MacDonald said.

Blues smash Cheetahs 50-32

In what was an end-to-end affair despite dour Eden Park conditions, a try-happy Blues outfit ran in eight five-pointers to four and appeared likely to cut through a meek Cheetahs defensive line at every opportunity.

All Blacks hopeful Rieko Ioane ran riot, scoring two tries and setting up another, while midfielder George Moala did his Test prospects no harm in a classy display.

Loose forward Steven Luatua also impressed as an all-action blindside.