Sydney – Australia's ACT Brumbies whittled the Coastal Sharks' lead down to two points in Super Rugby as champions Waikato Chiefs fought out their second straight high-scoring draw in South Africa.
The Brumbies took advantage of the Sharks' bye with a comprehensive 26-9 win over the Auckland Blues in Canberra to retain the lead in a tightening Australian conference.
The Chiefs also made up some ground with a 43-43 draw with the Central Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, a week after snatching a 34-34
tie with the Northern Bulls.
The New South Wales Waratahs joined the Chiefs on 20 points but in fourth place overall following their first win in eight years in Cape Town, a 22-11 victory over the bottom-placed Western Stormers.
Season surprises Western Force claimed their fourth straight win with a late try in a 32-29 victory over the Queensland Reds in Brisbane to lie fifth overall ahead of the Bulls.
The Bulls went down 25-20 to the Wellington Hurricanes but came away from Napier with a losing bonus point.
Seven-time champions Canterbury Crusaders beat the Golden Lions 28-7 in Johannesburg, while the Otago Highlanders downed the Melbourne Rebels 33-30 in Dunedin.
Pat McCabe scored a career first try double as the Brumbies scored three tries to beat the Blues in Canberra.
McCabe made several breaks and constantly dented the defensive line in his best performance since breaking his neck for the second time in June last year.
It was the first time the Brumbies had kept the Blues try-less in Super Rugby and it was the 11th straight away loss for the inconsistent Aucklanders.
The Brumbies shade the Waratahs by one point in the Australian conference.
A post-siren try by right wing Tim Nanai-Williams enabled the Chiefs to snatch a high-scoring draw with the Cheetahs.
Fly-half Aaron Cruden converted from in front of the posts to end a 10-try feast.
The Waratahs, again without Wallaby tryscoring ace Israel Folau, overcame the struggling Stormers to atone for a poor performance in Durban last weekend where they suffered a 22-point pasting from the Sharks.
While Folau failed to make the expected recovery from a throat injury, goal-kicking by fly-half Bernard Foley and fullback Kurtley Beale contributed handsomely to the win.
A try by Jayden Hayward in the final minutes clinched a dramatic win for the Force over the Reds.
Fullback Hayward beat three tackles, including efforts by Wallaby halves Quade Cooper and Will Genia, to score next to the goalposts in the 79th minute to wrest back the lead in a see-sawing contest.
The Force outscored the Reds three tries to two and slugged it out with the 2011 Super Rugby champions in a fluctuating second half where the lead changed six times.
The Hurricanes had to rely on the goalkicking of Beauden Barrett to pull off a narrow win over the Bulls.
Barrett's 20-point contribution ensured the Hurricanes continued their revival after a horror start to the season.
A couple of late tries clinched victory for the Crusaders over the Lions at Ellis Park.
Veteran scrum-half Andy Ellis dived over on 73 minutes and a superb grubber kick from All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg at the end set up centre Kieron Fonotia for a simple try and a deserved win.
The New Zealanders lacked their three biggest stars Ä loose forwards Richie McCaw and Kieran Read are injured and fly-half Dan Carter is taking a sabbatical.
The Highlanders held off a late fightback from the Rebels for a gritty win at home.
Both sides scored three tries apiece but poor discipline cost the Rebels as they failed to build on last week's stunning win over the Brumbies.– Sapa-AFP