Brumbies, Reds turn heat on wounded Tahs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Brumbies, Reds turn heat on wounded Tahs

By Adrian Warren 11/04/2010 03:21:32 PM Comments (0)

The Brumbies and Reds have cranked up the blowtorch on the battered Waratahs, as the three Australian rivals battle for Super 14 rugby semi-finals spots.

Starting the round in first place, the NSW Waratahs (29 points, 3rd) dropped two positions following their 20-13 loss in Christchurch to the Crusaders (29, 2nd) who moved above them on points differential.

The Crusaders' victory spared New Zealand the indignity of a rare winless weekend after their other three teams in action all suffered home losses.

The Bulls (33, 1st) regained top spot with a 33-19 bonus point win over the Chiefs (21, 7th) in Hamilton, bouncing back from their first defeat of the campaign by the Blues.

The Stormers (28, 4th) also showed resilience in recovering from their upset loss to the Force by notching a 33-21 win over the Blues (20, 8th) in Auckland.

NSW were the only Australian team to lose, as their three domestic rivals combined for 21 tries and each earned a bonus point win.

Queensland (26, 5th), earned their four-try bonus point within the first quarter in their 41-26 away win in Johannesburg over the hopeless Lions (4, 14th) and have tallied their most victories (five) in a Super season since 2003.

The Brumbies (26, 6th), who are below the Reds only on points differential, finally displayed more than just glimpses of their attacking qualities, earning their first try scoring bonus point of the season in a 61-15 home rout of the lacklustre Cheetahs (9, 13th).

The Force (10, 12th) followed up their first win of the campaign last week with a six-try 41-27 away conquest of the Highlanders (11, 11th) in Queenstown.

The Waratahs woes were compounded by a possible season-ending knee injury to Wycliff Palu, who just the day before re-signed with the franchise.

Injuries to prop Benn Robinson (forearm), Tatafu Polota-Nau (shoulder) and five-eighth Daniel Halangahu added further frowns to the face of NSW coach Chris Hickey prior to their bye.

"It is the latest bye you can get, but it is timely for us because of the injuries we've got," Hickey said.

A home win over the Hurricanes next Friday would lift the Brumbies above the Waratahs prior to their clash in Sydney the following week.

The Reds can also leapfrog the Tahs, but face the ultimate litmus test of their finals credentials when they host the Bulls on Saturday.

Five-eighth Quade Cooper shone in attack and defence and winger Rod Davies marked his recall with two tries.

Queensland finished with six tries against the Lions and bagged 11 points from their three matches in South Africa.

"That's a pretty good haul. If you asked me that beforehand I would have taken that, we've kept ourselves alive for a bit longer," Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said.

Brumbies prop Ben Alexander crossed twice in Canberra, where flanker Rocky Elsom turned in a super-charged performance for the home team.

"There's still way too many dropped balls and forced passes and us not doing what we possibly should have been doing, but at the end of the day when you put 60 points on an opposition side you've obviously done something well," Brumbies coach Andy Friend said.

Force winger Cameron Shepherd marked his Super season debut with two tries and centre Ryan Cross also bagged a double.

"There's still a little bit left in this team in terms of getting better," Force coach John Mitchell said.

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