Depleted Reds and Chiefs get off the mark
The Reds and the Chiefs overcame notable absentees to record their first wins of the Super Rugby season on Friday.
Despite suspensions for captain Scott Higginbotham, sent off in the first half of last week's 45-19 thumping against the Rebels, and Lukhan Tui, the Reds downed the Brumbies 18-10 in Brisbane.
Taniela Tupou had a second-minute try denied by the TMO but a pair of James Tuttle penalties sent the hosts into half-time with the lead despite Joe Powell's try.
The Reds kept the Brumbies off the board while Caleb Timu was in the sin bin for a reckless shot on Tom Banks, and a trio of three-pointers from Jono Lance - after a third from Tuttle - gave them an advantage that Brumbies were unable to close despite Isi Naisarani crossing with five minutes remaining.
The Chiefs travelled to Auckland without 15 first-team players, including Tim Nanai-Williams due to a season-ending shoulder injury sustained in the 45-23 loss to reigning champions Crusaders, but prevailed 27-21 over the Blues.
Matters were made even worse for the visitors by the late withdrawals of All Blacks Brodie Retallick and Shaun Stevenson and the Blues were on course for a win thanks to tries from captain Augustine Pulu and Akira Ioane.
But second-half scores from Sam Cane and Brad Weber brought the Waikato side from behind and they held on following Bryn Gatland's try for an impressive victory at Eden Park.
An arm injury to prop Nepo Laulala will provide cause for concern for the Chiefs, while Blues had to withdraw a hurt Pulu with just under 15 minutes left.