Credit / Sky Sports
Canterbury Crusaders 29 Western Force 21
Queensland Reds 24 Auckland Blues 31
The Auckland Blues are a point above the Canterbury Crusaders at the top of the trans-Tasman super rugby standings after both sides scored narrow wins in Friday night's round 4 games.
The Western Force got off to a flying start in Christchurch scoring inside the first five minutes after winger Toni Pulu stepped Crusaders fullback Will Jordan for a try. After the Crusaders hit back with two tries of their own, the Force closed to within three points with time up in the half. But Crusaders loosie Sione Havili had the last word, wrestling the ball over the line from a forward drive, to end the half 24-14.
Jordan grabbed his second try of the game early in the second half to push the score out to 29-14. The Force had to wait until the final minute to score again but it made for a spectacular end to the game. Captain and centre Kyle Godwin spotted no one defending deep for the Crusaders and kicked long for Jordan Olowofela to chase and score, denying the Crusaders a bonus point in their 29-21 victory.
In Brisbane, fresh from a 40-34 win over the Chiefs last round - the first for any Australian side in the trans-Tasman competition - the Reds were first to touch down after centre Hunter Paisami popped a short pass to no. 8 Harry Wilson to slice through the Blues defence untouched.
The Blues answered with two tries of their own over a 10-minute spell after Reds hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa was yellow-carded. The most exciting was a try to winger Mark Telea who glided through a space and past three defenders to take the Blues into the break 17-7 ahead.
The Blues were first to grab a try in the second half through captain Patrick Tuipulotu after Telea was held up on the line. The Reds and Blues then traded tries, with Reds hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa diving on a ball that popped out of a forward drive, and halfback Finlay Christie finishing off a similar Blues forward effort.
The Reds replied with a spectacular try to winger Filipo Daugunu, who lept between two Blues defenders to gather a kick angled out wide for him, to trail 21-31 with 10 minutes to play. But a Daugunu penalty kick in the final minute was not enough to overtake the Blues who won 31-24 and nudged in front of the Crusaders who had temporarily gone top of the table earlier in the night.
In Saturday's games, the Highlanders are at home to the Waratahs and the Hurricanes are in Canberra for the Brumbies.
Crusaders 29 (Jordan 2, Mataele, Douglas & Havili tries; Burke 2 conversions) Western Force 21 (Pulu, Olowofela & Callan tries; Miotti 3 conversions). HT: 21-14.
Blues 31 (Papalii, Tuipulotu, Christie & Telea tries; Black 4 conversions & penalty) Queensland Reds 24 (Wilson, Daugunu & Paenga-Amosa tries; Henry 3 conversions; Daugunu penalty). HT: 17-7.