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Super 14 round 11 review

By By Brenton Vannisselroy

Published: 8:03AM Monday April 24, 2006 Source: ONE Sport

The contrasting fortunes of the Blues and Chiefs were the feature of round 11 of the Super 14 while the Force held the Crusaders to a shock draw.

Chiefs 33-32 Cheetahs at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton on Friday night

The Chiefs will be happy with the result without being too thrilled with the performance that almost saw them go down to the Cheetahs on Friday night.

The home side made a brisk start to the match scoring two tries within five minutes of the kick-off and held a 21-3 lead 20 minutes into the match.

But the Cheetahs once again showed the fighting spirit that has seen them impress this year to close the margin to 26-17 at the break.

The Chiefs secured their bonus point prior to halftime but were forced to battle in the second stanza as the Cheetahs pulled to within a point with 10 minutes remaining.

The Chiefs managed to hold out the visitors and secure the points but they will be the first to acknowledge that they will have to improve markedly if they are to secure a playoff berth.

The Cheetahs return to the Republic next week where they will play host to the Blues while the Chiefs travel to Wellington to take on the Hurricanes.

Reds 20-24 Stormers at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane on Friday night

The Stormers managed to take out the battle between two sides whose hopes of a playoff berth have long faded.

The Reds controlled the match and held a 13-3 lead in the second half but a three try blitz from the visitors pinched the points.

Two tries from Joe van Niekerk and one from Jonghi Nokwe, all within the space of four minutes, sunk the Reds who suffered their fourth loss of the season by less than eight points.

The Stormers now jump ahead of the Reds on the Super 14 ladder ahead of their clash with the Crusaders in Cape Town next week, while the Reds travel to Canberra to face the Brumbies.

Force 23-23 Crusaders at Subiaco Oval, Perth on Saturday morning

Although the Force failed to claim their first ever Super 14 victory they managed to pull off a massive upset by drawing with the table-topping Crusaders.

John Mitchell will be delighted to have been responsible for putting an end to his old mate Robbie Dean's Crusaders chance of a perfect season.

However, the result could have been even more positive for Mitchell and the Force, who held a 20-8 lead at the break.

But Daniel Carter and the Crusaders were determined not to be the first team to lose to the new Perth franchise.

Rico Gear and Leon MacDonald both crossed in the second half to bring the scores level following a Carter conversion with five minutes remaining.

The Force were then unlucky to not complete the famous upset as winger Haig Sare's effort was ruled to have not been properly grounded.

The Crusaders will be relieved to have kept their unbeaten record intact ahead of their trip to the Republic while the Force will try again next week in Johannesburg against the Cats.

Brumbies 21-16 Hurricanes at Canberra Stadium, Canberra on Saturday night

The Brumbies put together a brave defensive display to take a big step towards a semi-final place in the marquee match-up of round 11.

The home side overcame the absence of key playmakers Matt Giteau and Stephen Larkham to move to within two points of the third-place Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes failed to find any holes in the Brumbies' defence until the 71st minute when top try-scorer Lome Fa'atau crossed the line.

The Brumbies led 15-6 at the break and managed to hold out a Hurricanes' fight back in the closing stages of the match.

The Canberra based outfit will be pleased to have maintained their advantage over the semifinal chasing pack heading into the final three weeks of the regular season.

The Hurricanes host the Chiefs next week while the Brumbies welcome the Reds to Canberra.

Sharks 32-15 Blues at Absa Stadium, Durban on Sunday morning

The Sharks remain in the hunt for a semi-final spot while effectively ending the Blues' season with a convincing win.

Sharks halfback Ruan Pienaar was inspirational for the home side, scoring once and contributing to several of their five tries.

The Blues cut the Sharks' lead to just five points in the 55th minute, but that was as close as they got as the Sharks added two further tries to clinch the win.

Blues captain Keven Mealamu felt the forward battle was where the match was lost.

"The Sharks pack just outplayed us, and once they got the score ticking they were difficult to stop," he said.

The Sharks travel to Pretoria to take on the Bulls next week while the Blues continue their tour of the Republic in Bloemfontein.

Bulls 46-17 Cats at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria on Sunday morning

The Bulls joined the Sharks in the semi-final chasing pack after humiliating the lowly Cats in Pretoria in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The Bulls trailed after an Andre Pretorius penalty in the 12th minute but quickly took the lead and held a commanding 18-3 advantage at the break.

The home side then set about claiming a bonus point and they succeeded in their task when Fourie du Preez scored midway through the second half.

The Cats now face the task of a wooden spoon battle with the Force next week while the Bulls are involved with a crucial clash with fellow semifinal hopefuls, the Sharks.