May 12 (Reuters) - Highlights from Super Rugby week 13 matches:
The ACT Brumbies shrugged off their “boring” reputation in a demolition of the Sunwolves in Canberra on Sunday to snatch top spot in the Australian Conference.
Criticised during the week for their stodgy, set piece-focused attack, the Brumbies ran in five tries to secure a bonus point in the twilight game at Canberra Stadium.
Returning from a knee injury, Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani was dominant for the Brumbies, while winger Henry Speight scored a brace of tries and gave away another in a welcome return to form.
The cellar-dwelling Sunwolves battled hard to find points but were denied by stout, try-line defence and squandered a number of chances with errant kicking on attack.
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Replacement flyhalf Shaun Reynolds booted a penalty 12 minutes from time to earn the Lions a narrow victory over the New South Wales Waratahs at Ellis Park and provide a winning return for coach Swys de Bruin.
De Bruin had spent the previous four weeks away from the team while he received treatment for stress, and will be delighted as his side showed excellent game-management in the final stages of a match in which both teams scored four tries.
Wings Aphiwe Dyantyi and Courtnall Skosan, lock Stephan Lewies and flank Kwagga Smith crossed for the Lions, who trailed 21-19 at halftime but secured a sixth victory in 11 games this season.
For the Waratahs it was a seventh defeat, and a second on their South African tour, despite tries for scrumhalf Nick Phipps, flanker Michael Hooper, and locks Rob Simmons and Tom Staniforth.
Scrumhalf Brad Weber completed a stunning team try from a re-start to fire the Waikato Chiefs to a tense home win over the Sharks in their Super Rugby match on Saturday.
Weber’s second try at Waikato Stadium came after a breath-taking buildup, with replacement Alex Nankivell bursting out of defence and 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 Mitch Karpik and Anton Lienert-Brown, held on for the nail-biting final 10 minutes to keep their slender playoffs hopes alive.
The Sharks had their sixth loss for the season but grabbed a bonus point to leapfrog the Jaguares and Bulls into top spot in the tight South African conference.
The Otago Highlanders scored four tries in a frenetic opening half then defended stoutly after the break to deny the Jaguares a comeback win in Dunedin on Saturday.
James Lentjes, Matt Faddes, Sio Tomkinson and Liam Coltman scored the home side’s tries under the roof at Forsyth Barr stadium as the Highlanders, minus injured co-captain Ben Smith, grabbed their third win in four matches to hold third place in the New Zealand conference behind the Canterbury Crusaders and Wellington Hurricanes.
The Highlanders came back from 26-13 down at half-time with tries to lock Marcos Kremer and winger Ramiro Moyano, and flyhalf Joaquin Diaz Bonilla’s conversion put them within five points with 15 minutes to play.
Although a string of penalties saw the Jaguares fall short, they picked up a bonus point to move to second in the tight South Africa conference, level with the table-topping Bulls and third-placed Sharks on points.
Wing Sevu Reece scored a hat-trick of tries as the Canterbury Crusaders made light work of the Bulls with a seven-try blitz at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
The defending champions played at a high tempo throughout the game, showing great levels of fitness as well as skill at altitude, and preyed on the numerous errors and soft tackling of the home side.
Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga bagged a brace of tries, and was masterful in steering the Crusaders attack, to go with scores from locks Mitchell Dunshea and Scott Barrett.
Centre Burger Odendaal crossed for the lone try for the Bulls, who went into the weekend on top of the South African Conference and now face a four-match tour of Australasia.
The Melbourne Rebels held off a dogged Queensland Reds side in a scrappy Super Rugby contest on Friday to maintain top spot in the Australian Conference.
The Rebels lost flyhalf Quade Cooper to a head-knock early in the second half. However, tries for winger Marika Koroibete, hooker Anaru Rangi, prop Tetera Faulkner and full-back captain Dane Haylett-Petty were enough to secure victory on a cold, blustery night at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
The Reds had tries from young replacements Isaac Lucas and Harry Hooper but were made to pay for their indiscipline, with captain Samu Kerevi and number eight Scott Higginbotham both handed yellow cards in the first half.
The Rebels scored three of their four five-pointers while the Reds were a man down and Reece Hodge sealed the win by slotting a penalty in the 79th minute.
The Wellington Hurricanes showcased their mastery of the counter-attack to fend off the Auckland Blues at Eden Park on Friday and shore up second spot in the New Zealand Conference.
The Barrett brothers proved lethal, with fullback Jordie nosing the Hurricanes in front with a first half try and flyhalf Beauden making a brilliant intercept to cross in the second as the visitors claimed their fifth successive win.
The Blues battled hard and dominated possession and territory but were denied repeatedly by dogged goal-line defence and slumped to their fourth straight loss.
Scrumhalf Sam Nock and blindside flanker Dalton Papali’i grabbed tries for the Blues, with jet-heeled winger Ben Lam capitalising on a turnover and evading a nest of defenders in a scorching run to score the Hurricanes’ first five-pointer. (Reporting by Ian Ransom and Nick Said; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty, Christian Radnedge, and Ian Chadband)