The Chiefs won 36-26 over the Rebels but missed out on the bonus point they craved to keep alive their realistic Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final hopes at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney on Sunday.

The Hamilton-based side needed a bonus-point victory against the winless Rebels to have any firm confidence in overcoming top pair the Blues and the Highlanders ahead of the final round of fixtures next weekend and raced to a three-try lead in the first half.

Anton Lienert-Brown crossed twice, including a superb 20th-minute solo try, with fly-half Kaleb Trask also touching down for the Chiefs inside the first 25 minutes to open up a 19-0 lead.

The Rebels showed fight to respond with three tries of their own before half-time, with a double from forward Isi Naisarani and one from Stacey Ili squaring the game up at the break.

Chase Tiatia came off the bench to score a second-half double, while Trask got his second for the Chiefs in the 52nd minute.

Winger Andrew Kellaway crossed for the Rebels who had a 70th minute George Worth try disallowed for obstruction.

The result moves the Chiefs to 14 points ahead of their final-round game against Waratahs, with the Blues and the Highlanders in the top two spots on 19 and 18 points respectively. The Rebels remain winless.

The Reds finally ended the wait for an Australian win in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman season, but there were heavy defeats for the Waratahs and the Brumbies on Saturday.

With Damian McKenzie sent off in the 22nd minute for making contact with the head area, the impressive Reds appeared to be coasting to victory when they opened up a 40-8 lead midway through the second half.

Isaac Henry scored two of their six tries, the first of which came with Chase Tiatia in the sin bin. McKenzie's red card then swung the game even further in the Reds' favour, as they capitalised on having an extra man to run up the score.

However, they were then forced to repel a frenetic comeback bid, four tries from the Chiefs closing the gap down to six points in the closing minutes.

The hosts managed to hold on to win 40-34 and register a first Australian success in the tournament at the 15th attempt, in the process denting their opponents' hopes of making the grand final as they collected only a losing bonus point.

New Zealand sides had dominated the two earlier fixtures, though, including the rampant Crusaders cutting loose against the Waratahs.

There were eight different try-scorers for Scott Robinson's team in an emphatic 54-28 triumph, with Richie Mo'unga converting all bar one of the scores in the rout.

The Waratahs did get within 10 points after Izaia Perese touched down with Oli Jager in the sin bin, while they also capitalised on yellow cards for David Havili and Nathan Vella to score a late try through Alex Newsome, albeit it was no more than a consolation effort.

The Blues made it three straight Trans-Tasman wins despite a determined Brumbies side matching them in the first half at Eden Park, the away team even holding a 10-7 lead when hooker Connal McInerney went over.

They were unable to hold onto the lead for long and trailed 17-10 at the break, Finlay Christie touching down for a try converted by Otere Black, who also slotted over a penalty.

The hosts added 21 points without reply in the second half, Bryce Heem, AJ Lam and TJ Faiane all grabbing tries in a 38-10 triumph that sees them take over at the top of the table.

Richie Mo'unga plundered a hat-trick as the Crusaders demolished the Reds 63-28 in Brisbane, with the champions of New Zealand swamping their Australian counterparts in Super Rugby Trans Tasman.

In just the second round of the competition, the Canterbury giants showed off their prowess and Mo'unga served up a dazzling offering of his quality.

The All Blacks fly-half was in inspired form from the off, and by the half-hour mark he had already snagged a pair of clinical tries and set up Sevu Reece to dart in for another stunning score. With Cullen Grace also sprinting through for a try, and Mo'unga clinical from the tee, the rampaging Crusaders were 28-0 ahead after just 29 minutes.

Tate McDermott got the Reds on the board with their first try, but the Crusaders kept the points flowing, Reece dashing in at the right corner to increase their lead to 35-7 early in the second half, before Mo'unga got his third try after 55 minutes, dotting down near the posts to allow himself an easy conversion.

A penalty try, accompanied by a yellow card for Harry Hoopert, nudged the Crusaders 49-7 ahead, but curiously the 14-man Reds then enjoyed their best spell, as Harry Wilson and Suliasi Vunivalu scored classy tries to reduce their deficit to 49-21 going into the final 15 minutes.

Hopes of further damage limitation were crushed when Tamaiti Williams powered over and Codie Taylor added another try to emphasise a devastating team performance, before Brandon Paenga-Amosa barged in for a last-gasp consolation.

Luke Jacobson earlier crossed twice as the Chiefs ran in six tries in a 40-19 victory over the Brumbies in Hamilton.

The hosts overwhelmed their visitors, with Jacobson landing a first-half double, collecting from the back of the scrum and crossing from close range each time, and further tries coming from Tupou Vaa'i, Damian McKenzie, Alex Nankivell and Anton Lienert-Brown.

McKenzie booted five conversions, with the result never in doubt. The Brumbies responded through tries from Len Ikitau, Tom Cusack and, right at the death, Rob Valetini.

Wing Bryce Heem grabbed a hat-trick for a rampant Blues side whose second-half dominance secured a 48-21 win against the Waratahs.

Armed with a 22-14 half-time advantage, the Blues raised their game for the second 40 minutes and pulled away, inflicting a 10th straight defeat of the season on the visitors to Eden Park.

Super Rugby Aotearoa champions the Crusaders survived a second-half fightback from the Brumbies to start their Trans-Tasman campaign with a dramatic 31-29 win.

The Crusaders appeared to be on course for a comfortable victory when they led 19-7 at the interval thanks to tries from Ethan Blackadder, Richie Mo'unga and David Havili.

Irae Simone's try and five points from the boot of Noah Lolesio trimmed the gap to two points after the break, only for Brendon O'Connor and Cullen Grace to cross to restore the Crusaders' measure of command.

But Tom Banks' try and Lolesio's conversion restored hope for Super Rugby AU runners-up the Brumbies, who then moved within two points of sending the game to extra time when Tom Wright's inside pass sent Rob Valetini over in the last minute.

However, this time Lolesio could not find the desired accuracy from the tee, his kick from the sideline sailing just wide of the left-hand post as the Crusaders clung on.

There was a markedly similar end to the Chiefs' 20-19 victory over the Western Force.

The Chiefs led 10-7 at half-time and tries from Nathan Harris and Jonah Lowe appeared to put them in control.

But Luke Jacobson's 66th red card, which came after he received a second yellow for slowing the ball down at the ruck, gave the Force new life.

They made their one-man advantage count three minutes later as Richard Kahui went over and had a chance to snatch victory at the last after Domingo Miotti crossed.

Miotti, though, could not convert his own try, sending the attempt agonisingly wide of the uprights.

That kick ensured it was a clean sweep for New Zealand sides over their Australian opponents, the Blues having run in eight tries in trouncing the Rebels 50-3 earlier in the day.

The Crusaders extended their Super Rugby dominance as Richie Mo'unga made three late clutch kicks to secure a 24-13 win over the Chiefs in Saturday's Aotearoa Grand Final.

For a fifth successive year, the Christchurch giants finished as champions in their competition, having been limited to all-New Zealand clashes in the last two seasons due to the pandemic.

The Chiefs, who finished bottom of the pile last season, defied expectations to reach this final at Orangetheory Stadium, but they could not take advantage of the Crusaders having two players sin-binned in the second half, briefly leaving them down to 13 men.

The underdogs made a disappointing start as they failed to prevent Mo'unga finding Sevu Reece to dot down the opening try after six minutes. Mo'unga added the extras, before Damian McKenzie pulled back three points with a penalty on 14 minutes.

Almost immediately, however, Will Jordan dashed through to gather David Havili's kick and nudge the Crusaders 12-3 ahead.

McKenzie was fed by a back-of-the-hand pass from Alex Nankivell as the Chiefs crossed in the 20th minute, continuing the barnstorming start to the match, and his conversion made it a two-point game.

That was the end of the try-scoring, however, as it became a match settled by the kickers, with Mo'unga slotting a penalty before half-time, which arrived moments after McKenzie missed the target.

McKenzie also squandered penalty chances twice early in the second half, as yellow cards in quick succession for Reece and Codie Taylor left the home side under-manned.

Belatedly, McKenzie found his range and hauled the Chiefs back to 15-13 as heavy rain fell, but Mo'unga showed nerves of steel to slot a drop goal in the 64th minute, and he added penalties in the 69th and 76th minutes to crush the challenge of the men from Waikato.

The Blues signed off their Super Rugby Aotearoa season with a 39-19 win over the Chiefs, who understandably had one eye on next week's final against the Crusaders.

A late double from replacement AJ Lam finally allowed the Blues to shake off their much-changed opponents, who rested several first-choice players.

Hooker Kurt Eklund barrelled through a vacant defence for the opening try at Eden Park and a bloodied Adrian Choat – who took a stray boot in the face for his troubles – touched down to help make it 14-9 at the interval.

But Bryn Gatland's unerring boot reduced the deficit to two points early in the second period as the fly-half went four from four off the tee.

Otere Black was off the mark with his conversion from Zarn Sullivan's maiden Super Rugby try and, when Gatland had no such problems after Bailyn Sullivan crossed, the scored were level with an hour played.

Black re-established his composure and the Blues lead with his only penalty of the match and, added the extras when Hoskins Sotutu powered over off the back off a five-metre scrum.

The Chiefs were unable to rally again, knowing their campaign will ultimately be defined a week from now, and Lam made hay with his late salvo.

Damian McKenzie landed a penalty after the final siren sounded to secure the Chiefs a thrilling 26-24 win over the Hurricanes on Friday.

Full-back McKenzie was on target with the match-winning kick in the 83rd minute of a see-saw Super Rugby Aotearoa clash that seemed set to yield an upset result.

Asafo Aumua's 68th-minute try, which was converted by Jordie Barrett, had the struggling Hurricanes on course for just their second victory of the 2021 season.

James Blackwell and Billy Proctor also touched down for the visitors - the former doing so in the opening minute of proceedings - as the team stuck at the bottom of the standings gave their second-placed opponents a serious scare.

Chiefs managed two tries themselves through Pita-Gus Sowakula and Bryn Gatland, but it was McKenzie's trusty boot that proved crucial in deciding the outcome.

The New Zealand international landed both conversion attempts as well as four penalties, the last of which dashed Hurricanes' hopes in dramatic fashion.

Damian McKenzie scored a last-gasp penalty as the Chiefs came from behind to edge out the Crusaders 26-25 and move second in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

McKenzie was on supreme form with the boot throughout Saturday's contest in Hamilton, and he proved decisive from 35 metres with three minutes remaining.

It was a different story for Richie Mo'unga, who missed what should have been an easy conversion from a Codie Taylor try early in the second half.

Mo'unga's mistake enabled the Chiefs to capitalise – Jonah Lowe crossing over in the corner to set the stage for McKenzie's winning penalty.

Lachlan Boshier also went over for the hosts, with McKenzie having kicked all nine of their points in the first half. 

Tries from Leicester Fainga'anuku and Will Jordan had propelled the top-of-the-table Crusaders to a 17-9 half-time lead, but indiscipline in the closing stages cost them. With four straight wins under their belts, the Chiefs are second on 16 points, ahead of the Blues and the Highlanders.

New Zealand captain Sam Cane has undergone successful surgery on a pectoral injury.

Cane suffered a tear in his right pectoral tendon during the Chiefs' Super Rugby Aotearoa victory over the Blues last month.

The back-row, who is expected to be out for between four and six months, revealed he also had damage to his shoulder repaired during the procedure.

Cane posted on Instagram: "Surgery went well. Grateful to have a very good surgeon who reattached my pectoral muscle but also tired [sic] up a few loose ends with my shoulder while he was in there

"Looking forward to starting the rehab process and coming back stronger."

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said following Cane's injury blow: "We are all disappointed for Sam, but we have full faith in the medical team around him and we wish him well for his surgery and rehabilitation.

"As All Blacks captain, he will still play a key role in our planning for the 2021 season, and we look forward to him returning to the footy field once his rehab is complete."

Damian McKenzie's long-range extra-time penalty saw the Chiefs edge the Highlanders 26-23 to claim Super Rugby Aotearoa's first golden-point triumph.

It proved a moment of atonement for McKenize, who had punted wide from a similar opportunity at the end of regulation time.

In total, McKenzie kicked 16 of the Chief's 26 points, with Etene Nanai-Seturo and Angus Ta'avao scoring the visitors' tries in Dunedin.

Chasing a third straight win, the Chiefs led for much of the encounter, yet were pegged back late on by fly-half Josh Ioane, who converted his own try before drilling a penalty through the sticks to force extra-time.

James Lentjes and Aaron Smith had previously crossed for the hosts at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

It was McKenzie who struck the decisive blow, landing a penalty from just short of the halfway line to send the Chiefs into third place on 12 points, two shy of the Blues, who occupy the second semi-final berth, with table-topping Crusaders coming up next.

The Reds thrashed Waratahs 46-14 to maintain their perfect start to the Super Rugby AU season and return to the top of the standings.

Substitute Alex Mafi's second-half hat-trick helped seal an emphatic victory for the leaders, who had not beaten the Waratahs in Sydney in eight years.

Will Harrison kicked three penalties for the hosts in the first half, but the Reds responded through tries from Tate McDermott, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Filipo Daugunu.

Taniela Tupou crossed over early in the second half to extend the Reds' lead and, while Will Harris touched down to give Waratahs a temporary reprieve, their opponents soon ran away with the game.

Mafi, brought on at the interval, scored the first of his three tries with a little over an hour played and added two more before full-time, either side of Hugh Sinclair and Zane Nonggorr being sin-binned for separate offences.

The Super Rugby Aotearoa clash between Chiefs and Blues earlier on Saturday was a lot tighter, with Damian McKenzie snatching a famous 15-12 win for the hosts in the final minute.

Akira Ioane found a way through 24 minutes in for the only score of the first half of what turned out to be a thrilling contest in Hamilton.

But the Chiefs, who had gone 11 matches without a Super Rugby win before beating Hurricanes last weekend, hit back through McKenzie's penalty and a Samisoni Taukei'aho try, the hooker grounding the ball in the midst of a maul of players.

That lead lasted just a few minutes, however, as Tom Robinson charged clear and dotted down for the Blues' second try, which Otere Black was unable to add to from the conversion.

And that would prove a costly miss as, with less than a minute to go, McKenzie rounded off a fine counter-attack and brushed himself down to add the extras for a memorable victory that lifts Chiefs up to third, now within two points of their opponents.

The Chiefs produced a sensational come-from-behind performance to claim a first Super Rugby win in over a year as they defeated the Hurricanes 35-29 at Sky Stadium on Saturday.

Trailing 26-7 at half-time after an action-packed opening 20 minutes, the Chiefs scored four second-half tries to claim a brilliant victory led by full-back Damian McKenzie.

It meant the Chiefs ended a run of 11 straight defeats against New Zealand franchises, while it was also their first triumph of any kind since overcoming the Waratahs on March 6 last year.

Coming into the game, both sides were winless in the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa season after two matches, and the Hurricanes scored four first-half tries to appear in total control.

However, the Chiefs responded with a second-half display that left the hosts shellshocked in Wellington, with Luke Jacobson crossing for the decisive try with five minutes to play.

The Hurricanes got the jump on the Chiefs in the 11th minute when Jordie Barrett broke and passed for Luke Campbell to cross on his starting debut, with Barrett making the conversion.

The visitors immediately responded with Kaleb Trask going under the posts two minutes later with McKenzie converting.

The action-packed opening 20 minutes continued with Ricky Riccitelli scoring out wide for the Hurricanes to make it 12-7.

The Hurricanes went further ahead when Ngani Laumape's wide kick found Salesi Rayasi who showed strength to get down for another try that Barrett converted.

Rayasi got his second shortly prior to half-time to give the Hurricanes a strong advantage at the interval.

McKenzie was denied a try early in the second half by the TMO before the Chiefs started their rally with Chase Tiatia's 56th-minute try.

Shortly after, McKenzie led a break and released Tiatia who combined with Samipeni Finau before scrum-half Brad Weber crossed.

The comeback continued in the 66th minute when Naitoa Ah Kuoi was pushed over the line. McKenzie added the extras to put the Chiefs ahead 28-26.

Barrett stopped the Chiefs' scoring run with a monster penalty goal to restore their lead at 29-28.

But the Chiefs touched down again with five minutes to play when Jacobson crashed over the line, before McKenzie again kicked accurately to seal a stunning win.

Jordan Petaia rounded off a remarkable comeback from the Reds with a last-gasp try as they dealt the Brumbies their first defeat in Super Rugby AU this season in a 40-38 thriller. 

The defending champion Brumbies led 24-16 at half-time of a rematch of last year's final and stretched their advantage to 15 points after Folau Fainga'a went over for his second try. 

But Taniela Tupou and Harry Wilson crossed within six minutes of each other to trim the gap to a point and James O'Connor's penalty kept the Reds within striking distance even after Issak Fines' try had briefly settled Brumbies' nerves. 

Yet it was Petaia who had a stunning final say, displaying superb handling to gather Hunter Paisami's low kick and touch down. 

O'Connor slotted over a simple yet crucial conversion to clinch victory for the impressive Reds, who have three wins from three and are just two points behind leaders the Brumbies, who have played a game more. 

In the Super Rugby Aotearoa tournament, the Crusaders breezed to a 39-17 win over the Chiefs, making it three straight wins to start their title defence.

They led by a slender 11-10 margin at half-time, the first half lit up by an extraordinary finish in the left-hand corner from Leicester Fainga'anuku. 

But they ran in four tries after the break and are nine points clear of the Highlanders at the top, albeit having played a game more.

Wing wizard Jona Nareki ran in a hat-trick as the Highlanders recovered from a 14-point deficit to sink the Chiefs 39-23 in Hamilton.

The result meant the Chiefs lost a 10th successive game, and they will scarcely have better opportunities to get back to winning ways in Super Rugby Aotearoa, having led 20-6 inside half an hour of this contest.

Yellow cards for Sio Tomkinson and Ash Dixon hindered the Highlanders early on, and tries from Luke Jacobson and Damian McKenzie put the Chiefs apparently in charge.

Nareki had other ideas, though, and when the 23-year-old sprinted 90 metres from deep inside his own 22 to score, it was an ominous warning of what was to come.

Folau Fakatava cut further into the narrowing deficit 10 minutes into the second half, darting over from close range, and then Nareki took over, firstly with a lung-busting dash through midfield that ended with him feeding Shannon Frizell to power over the line.

Nareki himself raced over in the right corner for his second try in the 57th minute, showing great pace but also the nimblest of footwork to scythe through the Chiefs defence.

He got in again in the 69th minute, this time on the left, beating a desperate last-ditch attempted tackle to dot down in the corner and complete the hat-trick.

Josh Ioane added the extras to four of the Highlanders' five tries and added a pair of penalties, with the Chiefs left wounded by a brutal setback.

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