Having failed to win any of its first five matches in Super Rugby this season, Queensland seemed an unlikely candidate to challenge New Zealand teams' domination of the southern hemisphere tournament.
The Crusaders ended the Sharks' unbeaten record and the Chiefs overcame some serious travel-related obstacles to firm as favorites for a Super Rugby title after the weekend's fifth round of matches.
South Africa's Sharks remained the only undefeated team in Super Rugby after a fourth round in which their match and one other pivoted on penalty kicks in extra time.
The ACT Brumbies and Durban-based Sharks are the only unbeaten teams in Super Rugby after a third round which posed new questions about the strength of New Zealand teams.
Argentina's Jaguares made a winning debut in Super Rugby but the other newcomers, Japan's Sunwolves and South Africa's Kings, lost in the weekend's opening round as did both of last year's finalists.
Captain Sam Cane scored from a lineout drive in the 77th minute to clinch the Chiefs' 27-21 win over the Crusaders Saturday in the first round of Super Rugby.
England coach Eddie Jones cast doubt on the wisdom of Ireland selecting Johnny Sexton for the teams' Six Nations match on Saturday, saying the flyhalf's parents would be concerned about his health problems.
Squeezing past Italy is one thing for France; beating Six Nations champion Ireland is quite another.
Joe Webber scored a try after the hooter to lift New Zealand over South Africa 24-21 in Sunday's final of the Wellington leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series, defending the title won on home soil last year.
English giants Leicester and Saracens stormed into the European Champions Cup quarterfinals on Saturday, securing crucial home ties in the process.