Chiefs thrash Crusaders in Hamilton
Round-up: The Chiefs sent an ominous reminder to their rivals why they are favourites to win this year's Super Rugby title with a 40-16 thrashing of the Canterbury Crusaders in Hamilton.
Chasing their third championship in four seasons, the Chiefs flexed their muscles with a five-tries-to-one romp against a Crusaders team that made the final last year but has struggled to reproduce their best form.
The Chiefs have won all three matches they have played this year, each with more conviction than the last, while the Crusaders have managed just one victory from three and suffered one of their heaviest losses in the southern hemisphere competition.
Sonny Bill Williams, back with the Chiefs after spending the last two seasons playing rugby league in Australia, had another big game.
He scored his team's first try and had a hand in two others as the Chiefs went to the break leading 22-9.
The only cause for concern for the Chiefs was the loss of All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick, last year's world player of the year. He left the field after just 10 minutes with a sore shoulder.
The Brumbies shaded a low-scoring contest with the Melbourne Rebels. Two tries earned them a 20-15 success and a second win from three this season, with the Rebels having won just one.
Mike Harris missed an early penalty for the Rebels but was soon on the money, cancelling out the three-point lead that Christian Lealiifano had given the Brumbies in the meantime.
The Brumbies regained the lead 20 minutes in, though. The ball was shifted to Tevita Kuridrani after a line-out and he raced through with Lealiifano adding the extras for a 10-3 advantage.
The same man added another penalty on the half-hour, but Harris kept his side in touch at the break with another of his own.
A sterile start to the second half kept the score at 13-6 but the points started to come as the rain started to fall.
Harris landed a penalty for the Rebels but as they lost Scott Higgingbotham to the sin bin they also lost seven points, Jarrad Butler scoring after a maul and Lealiifano curling over the conversion.
Harris added another penalty to keep his side in touch, and then another for a bonus point, but they could not close the gap sufficiently for a positive result.