Bulls, Sharks stay top of Super 14

The Bulls and Sharks both recorded wins on their Australasian road trips to maintain the top two placings in the Super 14 standings as the competition heads to its halfway stage.

The Bulls extended their unbeaten start to the season with a 19-14 win over the Hurricanes in Wellington and the Sharks scored three tries in a devastating 22-minute burst to beat Australia’s Western Force 22-10 in Perth.

Morne Steyn kicked four penalties and converted JP Nel’s in the Bulls’ five point win in New Zealand in a match where five players were sin-binned and Bulls flanker Deon Stegmann sent off and later suspended for three weeks for a dangerous tackle.

“It was a great win because the boys showed great character as we played the whole game with 14 men,” Bulls captain Fourie du Preez said.

Wings JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane and scrumhalf Rory Kockott all scored tries as the Sharks suddenly burst into life after a dour first half.

The South Africans, runners-up to the Bulls two years ago, rebounded from last week’s surprise loss to Queensland to sit in second place on 21 points, one behind the Bulls.

Pressure
“We were under a lot of pressure this week with a lot of people writing us off but it just shows the character of this side,” Sharks captain Johann Muller said.

Australia’s New South Wales Waratahs remained third despite losing 17-13 to the Canterbury Crusaders at Sydney’s Olympic stadium.

The Crusaders had won just one of their first five matches but got their faltering title 14 defence back on track with a deserving win after tries by Isaac Ross and Leon MacDonald.

“That was unbelievable, a great effort from us. We needed an 80-minute performance and the boys stuck at it right to the end,” said Crusaders skier Kieran Read.

Waikato Chiefs moved into the top four for the first time this season with a 63-34 demolition on their New Zealand neighbours the Auckland Blues.

All Blacks winger Sitiveni Sivivatu scored four of his team’s nine tries as the Chiefs racked up the biggest score by any team this season.

“It was probably a complete performance by us tonight,” Waikato captain Mils Muliaina said.

New Zealand test flanker Adam Thomson scored two tries in the Otago Highlanders’ 32-8 over the winless Cheetahs at Dunedin.

The Lions also recorded their second win of the season with a 25-17 victory over the ACT Brumbies in Johannesburg to complete a miserable weekend for Australian teams. - Reuters

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