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The Auckland Blues have shown their credentials for the title, the ACT Brumbies have shown signs of being a serious threat and the Canterbury Crusaders have proven that they are not a sold out force as the top three drifted away in Super Rugby Pacific over the weekend.

In a high-scoring round, when three teams scored more than 50 points, the rampant Blues led the way with a Melbourne Rebels 71-28.

The Brumbies won their third straight game against a New Zealand team with a 38-28 win over the Waikato Chiefs and the Crusaders overcame a Covid invasion by beating Western Force 53-15.

Whether the Brumbies are serious contenders or destined for a minor medal will become clearer in the next couple of weeks when they play with the Crusaders and then the Blues.

In the race to fill the remaining play-off spots, the Chiefs are clinging to fourth place over the NSW Waratah who have the same number of points, seven behind the Crusaders and one ahead of the Queensland Reds who have slipped to sixth after losing. against the Otago Highlanders.

The Wellington Hurricanes and Highlanders complete the top eight.

The Blues were rocked by the Rebels early in the clash in Auckland on Friday night, when the Melbourne side scored two converted tries in the first five minutes.

But from there it was one-way traffic as the Blues logged 47 unanswered points and took a 47-14 lead at half-time before the Rebels tightened up their defenses to slow the onslaught after half-time.

It was a step forward for the Blues who had not been convincing in recent weeks.

Despite the score on the run, Blues captain Dalton Papalii was not particularly happy.

“We defend some matches really well but there is no attack. In this match we attacked well but there wasn’t much defense. We have to find the balance, “she said.

The Blues have moved up to 45 points with 10 wins in 11 games, two points ahead of the Brumbies who have the same record of wins and losses and six ahead of the Crusaders.

The Brumbies have pulled back from beating the Highlanders and Hurricanes in the past two weeks by taking down the Chiefs.

Four goals each, with the difference of Noah Lolesio who scored four penalties to punish the indiscipline of the Chiefs.

“A good plot”

“Really proud of that effort,” said a pleased Brumbies captain Nic White.

“We talked about the intensity that we should have increased. We had a couple of good wins (against New Zealand teams) but they were at home. It’s very difficult to come away and win.”

The Crusaders, canceled in several quarters after losing two of their last three games, responded by putting more than 50 points over the Force.

This despite an outbreak of Covid-19 that forced the late retirement of four players.

Coach Scott Robertson described suggestions that the dominance of the 12-time champions was waning as “a good storyline” and was thrilled with the response.

“People want that title and that’s part of it. We expect it, “she said.

“We had a lot of things to do, but the guys who came in and performed tonight were really brave and they did it from the heart.”

The Highlanders took their third win and entered the top eight with a 27-19 win over the Reds in Brisbane.

Despite playing for part of the first half with just 13 men, the Highlanders fell just two points behind half-time and reached the lead in the final quarter when replacement scrum-half Folau Fakatava engineered two late tries.

Ten points off the former Brumbies’ boot and now Moana Pasifika Christian Lealiifano’s opening half, he has become only the seventh player to exceed 1,000 points in Super Rugby.

But it wasn’t enough to save his team as they lost 17-0 to Waratah and lost 26-20.

The Hurricanes became the third team to score more than 50 points when they beat the hapless Fijian Drua 67-5 on Sunday.