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Super 14 round 10 review

By By Brenton Vannisselroy and Steven Upfold

Published: 9:38AM Monday April 17, 2006 Source: ONE Sport

The Crusaders and Waratahs remain on top of the Super 14 table after a successful round of action for New Zealand sides with only the Highlanders failing to register a win.

Blues 39-8 Force at North Harbour Stadium, Albany on Friday

The Blues thrashed the Force to kick off the weekend's Super 14 action and have managed to keep alive their quest for a semi-final berth.

The home side welcomed back Luke McAlister at first-five and he delivered a vintage performance to guide the Blues to just their second bonus point of the season.

The Force put on their worst performance of the year and were aimless once James Hilgendorf left the field after the now infamous Rua Tipoki elbow.

Rua Tipoki was not penalised for the incident and he punished the Force with a hat-trick of tries.

However, the Blues have now lost Tipoki for the rest of the season after he was suspended for 16 weeks and will also be without the services of Troy Flavell for the team's tour of the Republic after the blindside flanker injured his shoulder.

The Blues now join a long-jam in the middle of the table before heading to South Africa while the Force remain winless at the foot of the table.

Crusaders 53-17 Cheetahs at Jade Stadium, Christchurch on Saturday

The Crusaders extended their unbeaten run to sixteen matches after demolishing the Cheetahs despite a generally close-fought contest.

The Cheetahs opened the scoring and were able to control possession for long periods but were unable to break down the characteristically brutal Crusaders' defence.

The Crusaders took advantage of any Cheetahs' mistakes and scored seven fantastic tries, securing the bonus point by halftime.

Daniel Carter missed his first shot at goal in three weeks but still came out of the match with a 28 point haul.

The Crusaders travel to the last place Force next week before embarking on a tour to South Africa while the Cheetahs travel to Hamilton to take on the Chiefs.

Chiefs 30-20 Stormers at Blue Chip Stadium, Mt Maunganui on Saturday

The Chiefs managed to claim four crucial competition points in a tense but scrappy encounter with the Stormers in Mt Maunganui.

The home side played poorly in the first half as their play was riddled with errors and the Stormers scored two tries to lead 14-7 at the break.

The Chiefs improved markedly in the second stanza although it wasn't until the 69th minute when the Chiefs finally took the lead at 23-20 courtesy of a try to local winger Anthony Tahana.

Tahana then scored his second with two minutes remaining to secure the points for the Chiefs and secure the hat-trick of tries for Bay of Plenty players.

The Chiefs remain in the middle of the table ahead of hosting the Cheetahs next week while the Stormers travel to Queensland to take on the Reds.

Reds 20-19 Bulls at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane on Saturday

The Bulls failed to close in on fourth spot in the Super 14 ladder after narrowly losing to the lowly Reds in Brisbane on Saturday night.

The Bulls had a chance to move to within a point of the Brumbies but failed to break through some spirited Reds' defence in the closing stages of the match.

The Reds took a 20-14 lead after a try to replacement Lloyd Johansson and it proved crucial as the Bulls' reply with 13 minutes remaining wasn't converted from Morne Steyn.

The Reds will be pleased with winning a close one, after losing several tight encounters early in the season, while the Bulls have to return to South Africa with just the one point.

Cats 8-36 Sharks at Ellis Park, Johannesburg on Sunday

The Sharks kept their semifinal hopes alive with a comprehensive win over the South African whipping boys the Cats.

Flanker Jacques Botes and prop BJ Botha crossed for the Sharks in the first half while Adrian Jacobs and Odwa Ndungane ensured they claimed a bonus point with second half tries.

The Sharks are among a group of five teams all within a point of each other who are all chasing the fourth-placed Brumbies outfit.

The week 11 assignment for the Sharks is one of that group - the Blues, and a loss for either side would all but kill off their last four hopes.

The Cats, with only the Force keeping them off the bottom of the table, are in danger of being relegated from the competition next season, with the last-placed South African side set to lose their place to the newly-created Southern Spears franchise.

Their bid to stay alive starts with a match-up with the Bulls next weekend.

Highlanders 13-29 Hurricanes at Carisbrook, Dunedin on Sunday

After a dominant second half display that kept the homeside scoreless, the Hurricanes took maximum points to stay in touch with the second-placed Waratahs.

Former All Black skipper Tana Umaga returned to the visitors lineup after a knee injury and was welcomed back with a four-try second spell peformance by his side, including a brace to fullback Isaia Toeava.

The Hurricanes will now shift their attention to next week's clash with the Brumbies and can put pressure on the Waratahs in the race for a home semifinal if they again take the maximum.

Meanwhile the Highlanders look likely to again finish mid-table and have the bye before finishing out against the Australian trio of the Waratahs, Brumbies and Reds.

Waratahs 37-14 Brumbies at Aussie Stadium, Sydney on Sunday

The Waratahs maintained their grip on second spot behind the Crusaders with a bruising win over the Brumbies.

The pre-match hype billed the game as an early Wallabies trial and the Waratahs didn't disappoint, running in four tries and kept the visitors scoreless in the second period.

The Brumbies, who remain in fourth place, lost first-five Stephen Larkham to a hamstring strain after just 12 minutes and never really got going.

"They just choked us," said Brumbies captain Stirling Mortlock. "We went in with a pretty positive game plan but a lot of times we ran from our half they caught us, turned us over and then capitalised from that."

The Waratahs can take advantage of next week's bye and rest up for their run into the semifinals which begins with a round 12 match with the Highlanders.

The Brumbies host the Hurricanes in Canberra next Saturday night in another top-four encounter.

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