Super -- Not So Super -- R13: Concerns for Rennie in second-half sleepiness

There are now just two weeks left to run in Super Rugby Pacific's regular season, with the top eight all but completely confirmed.

The Highlanders' third straight win has brought them a step closer to eighth spot, the Chiefs' last-ditch win over the Rebels on Sunday ensuring the Dunedin-based outfit has a six-point gap to the Melbourne side in ninth.

It certainly wasn't a good weekend for the Australian franchises, who were swept 5-0 by their Kiwi rivals. The Drua, meanwhile, took out the clash of the Pacific expansion franchises, knocking over Moana Pasifika 34-19.

Read on as we review some of the Super - and Not So Super - action from Round 13.


THE SUPER

Sensational Savea puts Canes on his back

We're starting to run out of superlatives for All Blacks star Ardie Savea, who was the focal point of the Hurricanes' comeback victory over the Waratahs on Saturday night.

Put simply, the Hurricanes would not have won the game without him. For a player who empties the tank week in, week out, Savea's performance at Leichhardt Oval was as good as any this season, as he dragged his side back into the contest with a series of surging runs and dogged defence.

After throwing the final pass for Bailyn Sullivan's try, which drew the Canes level at 15-all, Savea then powered his way over from close range to give his side a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

The All Blacks back-rower finished with 33 metres from his 10 carries, four beaten defenders and a clean break. He also was a perfect 12 for 12 tackles in defence.

Just how All Blacks coach Ian Foster comprises his back-row to face Ireland remains to be seen, but you can guarantee Savea will be the crux of whatever trio lines up in the first Test on July 2.

Perese perfect before injury strikes

While Savea was at the heart of the Hurricanes' comeback, Izaia Perese had earlier been central to the Waratahs' outstanding first half, as he opened up the visitors' defensive line on multiple occasions.

After several surging runs, the finest moment of Perese's half came as he laid on a try for left winger Dylan Pietsch.

The play started with a beautiful floated pass to Charlie Gamble from No. 8 Rahboni-Warren-Vosayaco, knowing the space was outside his No. 7, Perese wrapped around and took the pass and sprinted away deep into the Hurricanes' half. With Pietsch looming up in support, Perese drifted back in from the left-hand touchline and managed to split the two Hurricanes defenders, and then produced a magnificent flick pass offload to set his winger away for the try.

Perese continued to cause all kinds of headaches for the Hurricanes into the second half, in one instance attempting to repeat his sensational kick and regather play from a week earlier against Moana Pasifika. Unfortunately, on this occasion, Hurricanes No. 10 Aidan Morgan slid in to collect the ball with Perese just a fraction of a second behind and catching the fly-half's body flush on his leg as a result.

Perese left the field after the incident with Waratahs coach Darren Coleman later confirming that his star centre had suffered a medial ligament injury.

On Monday, Coleman revealed the injury was not as bad as first thought.

"The doctor said it was not as bad a medial strain as Harry (Johnson-Holmes') and we're going to push hard for him to be back for the play-offs," Coleman said. "It's a four to six week injury and if Izzy has a good rehab it could be a three-week injury."

It's a huge blow for Perese, who will have been putting considerable pressure on Wallabies selectors for the first Test against England. While the Brumbies' Len Ikitau remains the popular pick to partner Samu Kerevi in the midfield, Perese has been particularly powerful this season for the Waratahs and could have even been under consideration for a spot on the wing.

Hopefully he makes a speedy recovery and is able to return for the Waratahs in the playoffs, before he heads into Wallabies camp thereafter.

Chiefs find the match-winner at the death

There will be some disappointed players at AAMI Park on Monday after the Rebels blew what should have been a match-winning lead, late against the Chiefs.

In what was an entertaining back-and-forth battle on Sunday, the Rebels looked to have done enough to secure what would have been a morale-boosting win over the Kiwis and put them firmly back in the race for the finals.

That was until Richard Hardwick pushed the boundaries at the breakdown and gave the Chiefs one final crack at stealing the match. While the Rebels were able to steal the lineout after the Chiefs kicked to touch, the clearing kick was charged down and easily field by the visitors still inside the attacking half.

After a succession of phases, Chiefs replacement Ollie Norris steamed onto the ball 15 metres out from the line, shed four weak Rebels tackles and then drove his way over to score next to the posts for the match-winning try.

It was utter heartbreak for the Rebels, but absolute ecstasy for the Chiefs who capitalised on the Waratahs' loss to take a step towards a home quarterfinal with games against the Force and Fijian Drua to come.


NOT SO SUPER

Aussies still in the sheds after halftime

While the Australian teams have collectively been stronger opposition for the Kiwis, the 5-0 sweep of Round 13 will be a wake-up call for the closing two rounds of the competition - so too Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.

What will have been of particular concern for Rennie was how both the Waratahs and Reds came out after halftime, as the Hurricanes and Blues struck immediately upon the resumption to shift the momentum of the two Round 13 matches.

While the Blues had dominated much of the first half at Eden Park, the Reds had been able to keep themselves in the contest, with lock Ryan Smith scoring just before the break.

Five minutes into the second half, however, the game was as good as gone after Caleb Clarke and Beauden Barrett scored back-to-back tries for the Blues to open up a commanding 32-14 lead.

Just a couple of hours later in Sydney, meanwhile, the Waratahs ran to the sheds up 15-0 to the good, yet upon the resumption at Leichhardt Oval they immediately handed the momentum to the Hurricanes as the visitors scored after just four minutes.

From there the Hurricanes scored a second try right on the hour mark, and then a third inside the final five minutes, while all NSW could muster was a solitary second-half penalty goal.

Waratahs coach Darren Coleman later said that when the Hurricanes "went up a gear, we just couldn't go with them."

But the damage for both the Reds and Waratahs was coming out of halftime with such little energy, and they both paid the price as a result.

So often in Bledisloe Cup clashes of the past decade, the Wallabies have been overpowered early in the second half having worked so hard to get themselves back into the contest before the break.

If those dips are replicated by the Wallabies against England, they too will find themselves on wrong end of the scoreboard at fulltime.

Fa'amausili's brain explosion complete stupidity

Pone Fa'amausili has made enjoyed some excellent moments since his long-awaited return from injury and he remains a player of intrigue for Dave Rennie, despite spending much of his time with the Wallabies on the injured list.

Fa'amausili scored a try early against the Blues last week and was again prominent early on against the Chiefs on Sunday afternoon, that was until he was sent to the sin-bin for an act that was as unfathomable as it was stupid.

Having just produced a thunderous hit on Josh Lord, Fa'aumasili thought it was necessary to let the Chiefs lock know just how hard he had hit him and charged into the ruck to let him know.

But not only did he enter the ruck from the side, Fa'aumasili also then shunted Lord off the ball and then engaged in some push-and-shove, which caught the eye of both the referee and his assistant.

The Rebels prop was yellow-carded as a result of his actions, turning what should have been a morale-boosting hit into a one-player disadvantage for the first seven minutes of the second half.

Fa'amausili is clearly an aggressive player in the mould of Waratahs back-rower Lachie Swinton, but the Rebels prop must learn to channel that ferocity into the right areas if he's to be handed an opportunity at Test level.