Whitelock stars for Crusaders
George Whitelock bagged a hat-trick as the Crusaders crushed the Southern Kings 55-20 in their Super Rugby clash in Christchurch.
The hosts set the tone in the early stages, with three storming runs from captain Kieran Read leading to Whitelock's first try.
It was the first of seven that the Crusaders scored and while they were excellent in spreading the ball wide back and forward, they also showcased their potential from set pieces, with three of their first five tries coming from lineout drives.
The Reds bounced back from their shock home loss to the Force last week by downing the Bulls 23-18 in skipper James Horwill's comeback match at Suncorp Stadium.
The Queenslanders were slow out of the blocks, but a try to full-back Jono Lance four minutes shy of half-time gave the hosts a handy 13-6 lead at the break.
New Bulls number 10 Louis Fouche landed three consecutive penalty goals after the resumption to ever-so-briefly put the visitors back in front, before a Quade Cooper try in the 54th minute ensured the Reds were back in the ascendancy.
A late try from Willie le Roux and an impeccable kicking display from Riaan Smit earned the Cheetahs a 19-10 victory over the Western Force as they claimed a third successive win on their Australasian tour.
The hosts were fancied to build upon last week's impressive victory over the Reds and mark the opening of the new Eastern Stand at nib Stadium with a second victory of the season, but - despite dominating for long periods - they failed to put the stubborn visitors away and were ultimately left rueing three missed kicks at goal.
Later on, the Sharks scored 10 tries in a 64-7 victory over the Melbourne Rebels as they stormed to a devastating win in Durban and the Stormers brought an end to the Brumbies' unbeaten run with a 35-22 bonus-point victory in Cape Town.
The Stormers scored four ties, three in the first half of which two were from Andries Bekker - with a final try five minutes from full time. Despite their first defeat of the campaign the Brumbies remain top while the Stormers' second successive win leaves them in mid-table.