The first-place New South Wales Waratahs won their fourth consecutive match in rugby's Super 12 competition yesterday, beating South Africa's Stormers 25-10.
The Waratahs won each of their previous three matches with bonus points for scoring four or more tries. Their win Saturday at home wasn't nearly as convincing, and it helped buck a weekend trend of all three previous matches going the way of the visitors.
Elsewhere Saturday, South Africa's Bulls combined a powerful forward effort with suffocating defense to upset the Hurricanes 21-12 at Wellington, New Zealand and Canterbury picked up a bonus point before halftime in beating the Blues 41-19 at Auckland.
The Queensland Reds, winless in their first three games, started the weekend of home upsets Friday with a 20-6 win over the Waikato Chiefs at Hamilton, New Zealand.
In matches later Saturday, two South African teams had a chance to reverse the trend. The Cats hosted the ACT Brumbies at Johannesburg and New Zealand side Otago played the Sharks at Durban.
New South Wales, with two tries from Wallaby center Morgan Turinui, overcame a tumultuous week in which lock Justin Harrison, a Wallaby forward, stood down from the team after admitting he made racially offensive remarks to Cats winger Chumani Booi, who is black, during the Australian team's 40-19 win at Johannesburg last week.
Harrison faces a judiciary hearing Sunday which could see him suspended for up to six months on a misconduct charge.
"It's been a tough week, but the guys all came back really well," said Waratahs captain Chris Whitaker.
The Wellington match pitted the Bulls, without a win from three rounds, against a Hurricanes side playing at home for the first time this season after three wins on the road.
"Our defense was excellent," said Bulls captain Anton Leonard. "Our first phase was good, our retention of possession was good and overall it was a better performance than last week. I'm very glad that we've got a win on the road."
A breakaway try by Akona Ndugane in the opening minutes of the second half lifted the Bulls to 14-0 and from that point they controlled the match.
At Auckland, Caleb Ralph scored two of six Canterbury tries in the Crusaders' win over their traditional rivals.
Ralph scored his second try in the third minute of the second half, giving Canterbury a 41-0 lead. But their effort ebbed from that point and the Blues scored 19 unanswered points in the next 37 minutes.
The match was riddled with ill-tempered incidents, the worst of which saw Auckland and All Blacks lock Ali Williams sent off eight minutes from fulltime for stomping on the head of Canterbury captain Richie McCaw.
"Everything we tried to do seemed to turn to gold in the first half," said McCaw.
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