Beaten Wellington coach Chris Boyd complained that some off-the-ball incidents "have no place" in rugby after his Hurricanes were beaten by the Waikato Chiefs in a fiery New Zealand derby.
The Chiefs knocked the Hurricanes off the top of the Super Rugby standings at the weekend in a clash that epitomised the ferocity of New Zealand derbies.
But Chiefs coach Dave Rennie countered that there was a lot at stake and "both sides were into it".
In a match played in stormy weather on Friday night, the two form teams went toe-to-toe, forcing referee Brendon Pickerill to appeal several times for players to cool down.
At the final whistle, the Chiefs had won 26-18 to join the Houdini-esque Canterbury Crusaders and the Western Stormers as the only unbeaten sides after three rounds.
The Chiefs against the Hurricanes featured ferocious tackling, plenty of off-the-ball niggle and three yellow cards.
"The Chiefs are the Chiefs. You know what you're going to get but we were disappointed we didn't handle that as well as we would've liked," Boyd said.
"I thought there were four or five indiscretions off the ball that I don't think were in the best interests of footy or have a place in the game."
Chiefs flanker Michael Leitch, who is also Japan's captain, was Sunday suspended for one week for "dangerous tackling of an opponent" during the game.
Rennie pointed out the niggle was not one-sided and two of the yellow cards were against the Hurricanes.
"There was a lot of stuff off the ball. That's what seems to come out of these games, especially us and the Hurricanes lately," he said.
"There's a lot at stake. I guarantee if they were staying close by they'd probably be having a beer later on but they were grabbing each other's throats for 80 minutes.
"That's the nature of our game. There's always going to be a bit of niggle."
- Crusaders leave it late -
In a less-frenzied atmosphere, the Crusaders again had to come from behind to escape defeat.
A week after scoring 24 unanswered points to beat the Highlanders, this time they were down 17-0 to the Queensland Reds after 25 minutes and lost All Blacks Israel Dagg and Seta Tamanivalu with leg injuries before fighting back to win 22-20.
And 21-year-old Mitchell Hunt kicked the winning penalty after the full-time hooter had sounded.
"It would be nice not to do that," said captain Sam Whitelock. "It would be nice to get a few points early."
Eben Etzebeth celebrated his debut as Western Stormers skipper with a 41-10 triumph over regular Super whipping boys Southern Kings.
It left the Stormers the only South African side with a 100 percent record after the Lions, for the second year running, lost to the Jaguares with the Argentina side winning 36-24.
The scoreline flattered the previously unbeaten Lions as Jaguares fly-half Nicolas Sanchez missed four of 10 shots at goal and the visitors scored two late tries after flanker Tomas Lezana was yellow-carded.
The Highlanders scored the only try of the match as they notched the first win of their season with a 16-12 victory over the Auckland Blues, while teenaged supersub Curwin Bosch steered the Coastal Sharks to a 37-14 win over the NSW Waratahs.
The 19-year-old was thrust into action after six minutes when captain Patrick Lambie was injured and contributed 27 points from a try, two conversions and six penalties.
In Bloemfontein, the Central Cheetahs held off an improving Sunwolves 38-31.