May 28 (Reuters) - Highlights of week 14 of Super Rugby:
Fullback Tom Banks and replacement back Andy Muirhead both grabbed two tries as the ACT Brumbies solidified their position at the top of the Australian Conference with a comfortable victory in Buenos Aires.
Banks crossed twice in six first-half minutes, the second coming after he got on the end of a deft cross-kick from flanker Chris Alcock, to help the visitors to a 20-10 halftime lead.
Lock Sam Carter had opened the scoring from a rolling maul and, after the break, winger Henry Speight and Muirhead, who grabbed his brace inside four minutes, took the try tally to six, securing the bonus point.
Locks Tomas Lavanini and Guido Petti Pagadizabal scored tries for the Jaguares but they once again paid the price for indiscipline, no more so than when skipper Agustin Creevy was sin-binned for a cynical foul on the stroke of halftime.
Rugby-Barrett concern for New Zealand ahead of Lions tour
Colossal defensive effort sees Sharks weather Stormers challenge
Highlanders win ninth straight as indiscipline costs ‘Tahs
Blues held to agonising draw by Chiefs in Auckland
Bulls appoint Mitchell as Executive of Rugby
Wallabies hooker set for Moore captaincy
Mumm to hang up boots at end of season
Broken bone of contention fells McCalman again
Bulls appoint Mitchell as Executive of Rugby
Super Rugby fixtures
The Sharks put in a brilliant defensive effort to secure a home win over the Stormers as they repelled numerous attacks from the visitors and scored three tries.
Centre Johan Deysel, lock Stephan Lewies and wing Sibusiso Nkosi crossed the line, with the latter scoring a fine solo effort.
The Stormers spent much of the game in the Sharks’ half but, despite battering their line, managed only one score through fullback SP Marais.
They were denied a losing bonus-point that would have secured a quarter-final place when loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe was held up over the line after the hooter had sounded.
Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett withdrew from the side just before kick-off with an unspecified ailment as the visitors managed a convincing bonus-point victory over the struggling Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
First-half tries from fullback Jordie Barrett, centre Ngani Laumape, South African-born wing Wes Goosen and lock Mark Abbott gave the Hurricanes a 24-13 halftime lead. Hooker Leni Apisai crossed for their only try of the second half.
The Bulls, who announced New Zealander John Mitchell as their new coach on Thursday, looked more competitive than in recent weeks, and scored tries through wing Duncan Matthews and loose-forward Nick de Jager.
The Hurricanes stay second in the New Zealand Conference with 10 wins from 12 this season, while the Bulls suffered a ninth defeat of their dismal 2017 campaign.
The Crusaders remained on course for a perfect season after four tries in a dominant first half set up a comfortable win over the Rebels in Melbourne, their 13th victory in a row from the start of the year.
Flanker Jed Brown came on for the injured Pete Samu in the 13th minute and had scored his first two Super Rugby tries by halftime with winger Manasa Mataele and centre Seta Tamanivalu also crossing before the break.
Fullback David Havili added a fifth for the seven-times champions in the 45th minute and Mitch Drummond capped the scoring after a great run from number eight Jordan Taufua.
The Rebels, still looking for their second win of the year, had two fine tries from winger Marika Koroibete and another from prop Toby Smith and will perhaps be pleased to have kept the Crusaders to only 41 points after losing 85-26 in their last meeting.
The Otago Highlanders overcame a halftime deficit to thrash the New South Wales Waratahs in Dunedin and register a ninth straight Super Rugby victory.
The 2015 champions trailed the 2014 winners by one point at halftime but ran in five tries with some breathtaking rugby in the second half for a comfortable victory.
Centre Richard Buckman, winger Tevita Li, hooker Liam Coltman as well as replacement backs Rob Thompson, Daniel Lienert-Brown and Lima Sopoaga all crossed for the hosts.
Replacement scrumhalf Jake Gordon scored twice for the Waratahs after the break to add to tries from Israel Folau and hulking winger Taqele Naiyaravoro in the first half. They will rue a costly 45th minute yellow card shown to Dean Mumm.
Flanker Uzair Cassiem grabbed a brace of tries as South Africa’s Cheetahs put the Sunwolves to the sword with a seven-try victory in Tokyo to record their third win of the season.
Cassiem burrowed over for the first time in the 16th minute, loose forward Niell Jordaan added the second just before halftime and flyhalf Niel Marais finished off a flowing move at the start of the second half.
Sunwolves lock Sam Wykes burst through a tackle to cut the deficit to 19-7 in the 47th minute but Cassiem crashed over for his second 13 minutes from the whistle.
There was still time for hooker Torsten Van Jaarsveld to cross before replacement back Tian Meyer and winger Sergeal Petersen put a gloss on the win.
The Western Force scored 17 points in the last 18 minutes at Lang Park to all but end Queensland’s hopes of making the postseason.
Wallabies captain Stephen Moore crossed twice for the home side, who also had tries from centre Duncan Paiaaua and lock Lukhan Tui but still slumped to a ninth defeat of the season.
The visitors also scored four tries courtesy of flanker Ross Haylett-Petty, fullback Marcel Brache and hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau as well as a penalty try.
The difference on the scoreboard was the kicking of Force flyhalf Peter Grant, who notched up 18 points in a flawless display of place-kicking.
The Auckland Blues battled hard to keep their season alive but were held to a draw by the Waikato Chiefs on a wet night at Eden Park on Friday.
Blues flyhalf Piers Francis narrowly missed a penalty in the 73rd minute that would have given the home side a three-point lead and the teams battled on to record their first ever draw.
The Chiefs battled back from 13-3 in the first half, with livewire fullback Damien McKenzie scoring a try and setting up a second for Jonathan Faauli in the 68th minute.
Rieko Ioane scored the Blues’ sole try in the first half. (Reporting by Ian Ransom/Nick Mulvenney/Nick Said; Editing by John O‘Brien/Amlan Chakraborty/Ken Ferris)