This weekend was definitely a crucial weekend in both Hemispheres. First of all, in the North, it was the last round in the Pro14. Given the new format for the last two seasons, two sides would qualify for the semi-finals while other sides would play qualifiers.
Meanwhile, about the Premiership and the Top14, the regular season was not over but the last rounds were taking place. There was plenty at stake for all the clubs. Moreover, in the Southern Hemisphere, the Super Rugby competition was just unpredictable.
With the end of the regular seasons in the Northern Hemisphere, a few teams were going to get promotion from lower leagues. It was all about planning already for all these sides. The target was just preparing to be ready for next season and stay in the main league.
* Crusaders vs. Lions : Super Rugby (AMI Park, Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Crusaders unleashed an early build-up and centre Braydon Ennor got the try. Richie Mo’unga kicked a penalty as the Lions replied with a penalty as well from Elton Jantjies. The Crusaders kept the possession and winger Sevu Reece scored an outstanding try.
In the second-half, the Crusaders still applied the pressure and George Bridge got the inside ball from a lineout to touch down. On the resulting re-start, the Crusaders found more spaces in the midfield and George Bridge finished the build-up for his brace.
The Lions came back with a try from Ruan Combrinck who intercepted a pass. However, from a powerful scrum, the Crusaders made the chip-kick and Sevu Reece got his brace, too. It was another home bonus point win for the Crusaders who impressed (FT : 36-10).
* Hurricanes vs. Chiefs : Super Rugby (Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand)
The Hurricanes were on the attack early as fullback Jordie Barrett touched down after gathering an inside ball. He got a stunning brace later on as he beat a few defenders. Building the phases, the Hurricanes added another try with forward Kane Leaupepe.
However, the Chiefs came back with Luke Jacobson finding the try line and Ataata Moeakiola who carried over the line. The Hurricanes hit back with TJ Perenara after some great offloads. In the second-half, the Chiefs had a try with Lachlan Boshier.
The Hurricanes kept the composure and Wes Goosen touched down in the right corner. Ardie Savea concluded an astonishing counter-attacking play and winger Salesi Rayasi also scored on debut. The Hurricanes defended and secured the home win (FT : 47-19).
* Stormers vs. Bulls : Super Rugby (Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa)
The Stormers were playing some outstanding attacking rugby from the beginning. Sergeal Petersen touched down after some great work from skipper Siya Kolisi. Handré Pollard closed the gap for the Bulls with a penalty but the Stormers were just there.
On for Dillyn Leyds, Seabelo Senatla took the ball and got a stunning individual try. The Bulls came back again with two more penalties from Handré Pollard. In the second-half, the Bulls got the advantage when Ivan van Zyl scored from close range in a big build-up.
Though, the Stormers kept the composure and Josua Stander kicked a penalty. Then, the home side still played and Dillyn Leyds, back on the field, scored. The Bulls scored a consolation try with Mannie Libbok as the Stormers got the very good win (FT : 24-23).
* Exeter vs. Harlequins : Premiership (Sandy Park, Exeter, England)
The Exeter Chiefs were accurate in their passes and it brought them rewards early. Finding the space, the players delivered and centre Ollie Devoto was the try scorer. Maintaining the pressure, the Exeter Chiefs still attacked and Nic White touched down.
The Harlequins had a penalty in that first-half with Marcus Smith. In the second-half, the Exeter Chiefs relied on their forwards pack and prop Harry Williams carried over the line. The try was awarded after a TMO (Television Match Official) call from the referee.
However, the home side could not control the scrum well and Ben Moon was yellow-carded. The Harlequins unleashed a come back with Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Charlie Walker both scoring tries. The Exeter Chiefs held their lines to get the win (FT : 17-15).
* London Irish vs. Ealing : Championship (Madejski Stadium, London, England)
The London Irish had the initiative first and centre Brendan Macken concluded a counter-attacking play for the try. They got a second try later on thanks to their fullback Alivereti Veitokani. However, the Ealing Trailfinders were not out of the contest.
Reon Joseph scored a good try for the team but Albert Tuisue concluded a nice build-up for the London Irish. Ealing Trailfinders still attacked and Segundo Tuculet replied with the try as London Irish lacked discipline. In second-half, the London Irish re-gathered.
In fact, they turned the ball over a few times before Matt Williams crossed the whitewash for the bonus point try. Later on, Fergus Mulchrone made the grubber kick as the ball was loose and he scored the great try. The London Irish just won (FT : 33-12).
* Castres vs. Toulouse : Top14 (Pierre Antoine, Castres, France)
Stade Toulousain played with composure from the beginning of the game. Fullback Thomas Ramos kicked two consecutive penalties. However, they lacked discipline as Pita Ahki and François Cros were both yellow-carded. Castres Olympique had all the ball.
The home side earned a penalty try just before the Half-Time. Nevertheless, Stade Toulousain were stronger in the second-half and Thomas Ramos landed three more penalties. Castres Olympique replied with tries from Florian Vialelle and Rory Kockott.
Thomas Ramos got a kick and so did Benjamin Urdapilleta for Castres Olympique. Though, Thomas Ramos landed another kick. Castres Olympique went for the drop-goal but Benjamin Urdapilleta knocked the ball on as Stade Toulousain won (FT : 20-21).
* Cheetahs vs. Kings : Pro14 (Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa)
The Southern Kings got a penalty with Maxisole Banda. The Cheetahs moved the ball and Abonghile Nonkontwana scored. Maxisole Banda got another kick for the Southern Kings. Then, the Cheetahs added a try with Walt Steenkamp as Meli Rokoua was binned.
The Cheetahs attacked well and Joseph Dweba scored from a maul. Harlon Klaasen got a try for the Southern Kings but Shaun Venter replied with a stunning try for the Cheetahs. In the second-half, Louis Fouché crossed the line but the Southern Kings hit back quickly.
Harlon Klaasen got a brace and Bjorn Basson scored. The Cheetahs still played with Benhard Jansé Van Rensburg scoring as Shaun Venter got a brace. Malcolm Jaer touched down on the wing and Boan Venter sealed the win with a very powerful try (FT : 61-25).
* Agen vs. Lyon : Top14 (Stade Armandie, Agen, France)
The home side had all the possession in front of their home crowd. Léo Berdeu kicked the penalty before Facundo Bosch got a great try for the home side. Lyon were back in the game when Jean-Marc Doussain kicked a penalty but Agen had the physicality.
Léo Berdeu kicked a penalty at the end of the first-half. In the second-half, Antoine Miquel concluded a nice build-up before Léo Berdeu chased a kick to get a stunning try. Lyon needed a strong reaction and they scored a try thanks to forward Virgile Bruni.
In the last quarter of the game, they were attacking from all parts of the field. Centre Charlie Ngatai was also the try scorer. The home side had to handle the pressure. Agen finally managed to get the turnover and they earned the defining win (FT : 25-15).
* Munster vs. Connacht : Pro14 (Thomond Park, Limerick, Ireland)
The Connacht players started well but Jack Carty missed his attempt at goal. Later on, Munster built a few phases as Tyler Bleyendaal kicked the penalty. Though, Connacht relied on their forwards pack and prop Finlay Bealham managed to carry over the line.
Munster played better after that but Andrew Conway was denied a try for a knock-on. The home side kept their structure with second-rower Tadgh Beirne finding the space and touching down. Fullback Mike Haley concluded a stunning counter-attacking try.
Tyler Bleyendaal kicked a second penalty but Jeremy Loughman was yellow-carded after a scrum infringement. Connacht threw everything and Eoin McKeon scored. Munster were composed and JJ Hanrahan sealed the good win with a superb score (FT : 27-14).
* Glasgow vs. Edinburgh : Pro14 (The Scotstoun, Glasgow, Scotland)
The Glasgow Warriors played their expansive rugby brand from the beginning. Adam Hastings was on target with his penalty attempt as centre Sam Johnson was the try scorer. Edinburgh closed the gap with a penalty from their playmaker Simon Hickey.
The Glasgow Warriors found spaces around the fringes and scrum-half Ali Price touched down. Adam Hastings also added another penalty. In the second-half, Edinburgh had many opportunities but the Glasgow Warriors were just outstanding defensively.
Spreading the ball, the home side got another try with Niko Matawalu. Winger Tommy Seymour later concluded another stunning build-up. Duhane van der Merwe got a consolation try for Edinburgh as the Glasgow Warriors won the fixture (FT : 34-10).
* Perpignan vs. La Rochelle : Top14 (Aimé Giral, Perpignan, France)
Perpignan got the first points with Enzo Selponi as Ihaia West also kicked a penalty for La Rochelle. Arthur Retière got a great try for Stade Rochelais while back-rower Gregory Alldritt carried over the line. Wiaan Liebenberg also touched down after a great move.
Perpignan replied with Jean-Bernard Pujol. In the second-half, Ihaia West kicked a second penalty. Perpignan got back again with Masalosalo Tutaia. Jean-Charles Orioli and Marcel Boughanmi showed their respective power to get two tries for La Rochelle.
Perpignan threw everything in attack as Sione Piukala and Tom Ecochard garbbed quick tries. La Rochelle stayed composed with Ihaia West touching down on the wing. Playing expansively, they reclaimed the bonus point win when Marc Andreu scored (FT : 29-51).
* Jaguares vs. Brumbies : Super Rugby (José Amalfitani, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
The Jaguares went quickly for their entertaining brand of rugby and Sebastian Cancilliere scored the try. The Brumbies were back in it when Folau Fainga’a scored from a big maul. Later on, fullback Tom Banks got a try from a strong set-piece play.
However, the Jaguares tied the game up when centre Matias Orlando found the way to the try line and touched down. Hooker Agustin Creevy also scored a great try. Christian Leali’ifano kicked a penalty for the Brumbies just before the Half-Time to close the gap.
In second-half, the Jaguares had possession. Domingo Miotti kicked a penalty but Marcos Kremer was yellow-carded for foul play. The Jaguares held their lines and made some defining turnovers as one last big defensive play earned them a great win (FT : 20-15).
* Toulon vs. Bordeaux : Top14 (Felix Mayol, Toulon, France)
In windy conditions, Bordeaux Bègles started with a try from Alexandre Roumat. However, Toulon went through the phases and winger Filipo Nakosi touched down. Later, Rhys Webb played the quick-tap and Mathieu Bastareaud carried over the line.
Julien Ory also touched down for Toulon after a great build-up. Baptiste Serin kicked a penalty for Bordeaux Bègles as Antony Belleau missed one for Toulon. In the second-half, Baptiste Serin missed a penalty, too. Greg Peterson was binned for Bordeaux Bègles.
Julian Savea concluded a nice build-up while Florian Fresia also scored. Bordeaux Bègles scored a late try with the prop Peni Ravai. Toulon finished well with Guilhem Guirado scoring from a strong maul. Facundo Isa sealed the win with one last try (FT : 45-17).
* Colomiers vs. Angoulême : ProD2 (Michel Bendichou, Colomiers, France)
The home side got a penalty but fly-half Sebastian Poet missed. Soyaux Angoulême got a few penalties but Jean Ric missed both attempts which were difficult. However, he was successful with his third attempt. However, they had a player binned with Paul Belzons.
Sebastian Poet kicked a penalty but missed another. In the second-half, they found the space and Kylian Jaminet scored a stunning counter-attacking try. Romain Bézian for Colomiers and Paul Huette for Soyaux Angoulême were both binned after foul play.
Colomiers had a try from a maul with Agustin Costa Repetto. Following another brawl, Adrien Bécaux and Jean Ric were both red-carded. Soyaux Angoulême came back with a try from Paul Belzons. Though, Colomiers managed well and secured the win (FT : 15-08).
* Stade Français vs. Clermont : Top14 (Jean Bouin, Paris, France)
The home side were on the attack early as Jules Plisson kicked two consecutive penalties. Sitareki Tuicuvu was yellow-carded for Clermont after foul play. Stade Français applied pressure and Rémi Bonfils got the try. However, they also lacked discipline, after that.
Julien Arias and Gaël Fickou were both yellow-carded as Clermont hit back with a penalty try and Apisai Naqalevu showing his power. Jules Plisson landed two more penalties while Greg Laidlaw got one for Clermont. Jules Plisson later kicked another.
Apisai Naqalevu got his brace after gathering a chip-kick. John Ulugia carried over the line for the try. Morné Steyn landed a kick for Stade Français but Greg Laidlaw had one and Étienne Falgoux sealed the win for Clermont with a try from close range (FT : 25-41).
This weekend was outstanding. In the Top14, Stade Toulousain earned a defining away win while Agen secured their league spot. Stade Rochelais clinched a bonus point win while Toulon got the bonus point win. Moreover, Clermont got a key away win in Paris.
In the ProD2, Colomiers secured their spot. In the Premiership, the Exeter Chiefs won their fixture and London Irish won their Championship game. Besides, with the Pro14, the Cheetahs got an entertaining win. Munster and Glasgow Warriors convincingly won.
Finally, in Super Rugby, the Crusaders and the Hurricanes kept the momentum. The Stormers snatched a key win while the Jaguares performed well. Next weekend, the leagues will go on with qualifiers in the Pro14 as the World Cup is coming quickly.