Super Rugby - Round 14
Sharks overcome high-flying Stormers
ESPN Staff
May 26, 2012
The Hurricanes' Julian Savea races in to score a try, Hurricanes v Rebels, Super Rugby, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand, May 26, 2012
The Hurricanes' Julian Savea skips in for one of his three tries against the Rebels on Saturday night © Getty Images

The Sharks kept their play-off hopes alive with a 25-20 victory over the high-flying Stormers at Kings Park on Saturday, with the victory putting the hosts just five points behind the Stormers and two behind second-placed Bulls

The Stormers, who head the South African conference from the Bulls, almost pulled off a terrific comeback as they rallied from 25-6 just after half time with Gio Aplon touching down twice and Peter Grant adding two conversions to his first-half penalties.

But the Sharks had built up a lead that proved too much for their rivals. Former France fly-half Federic Michalak grabbed the Sharks' first try in the 17th minute with No.8 Keegan Daniel and winger Lwazi Mvovo also touching down. Patrick Lambie landed two conversions and two penalties.

The Chiefs produced an impressive display to dispatch the Bulls 28-22 in their Super Rugby clash in Waikato on Friday night.

The result takes the Chiefs back to the top of the overall standings where they are four points ahead of the Stormers who play the Sharks on Saturday. It was a dominant second-half performance from the Waikato-franchise which proved to be the difference after they trailed the Bulls 16-8 at half-time. Tries from Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Sam Cane was enough to get them over the line with Morne Steyn's boot keeping the Bulls in the mix. "We're thrilled that we could kick on in a very tight game," said Chiefs skipper Craig Clarke. "We knew we were playing some good footy and needed to keep doing what we were doing and we did that ... we didn't want to play a controlled, structured game, that's sort of their style."

The Reds closed the gap at the summit of the Australian conference on Saturday, beating the Brumbies 13-12 at Canberra Stadium after Zack Holmes missed a penalty at the death.

Jake White's side remain five points clear at the summit but the Reds will now have added impetus to overhaul their rivals. Fullback Luke Morahan got the visitors on the board early with a solo try, with Mike Harris landing the conversion and two penalties. Before his costly miss at the hooter, Holmes kicked four penalties to keep his side in the hunt.

"Yeah, it's a great result. Very fortunate at the end and the young kid [Holmes] missed," Reds captain Will Genia told The Canberra Times. "A win's a win, we had to win it and we had to have lots of energy and enthusiasm. We go in with a good result and we come out of the bye with a positive attitude."

The Hurricanes kept their play-off hopes alive with a thumping 66-24 victory over the Rebels in Wellington on Saturday. Rising star Julian Savea stole the show with a hat-trick with in-form fullback Andre Taylor and winger Alapati Leiua grabbing two tries apiece. Fly-half Beauden Barrett pulled the strings in what was a nine-try romp and ended the game with 21 points.

"There were too many ball carries into contact and possession lost. Too slow at the breakdown and gave them too many opportunities to two pass, two-pass kick or two-pass to their edges," Rebels boss Damien Hill told Sportal. "It just takes one missed tackle first up in that line and you're on the back foot for the next couple of phases. We were probably lucky to get away with what we did."

In the day's second game, the Highlanders held off a late fightback from the Blues to claim a valuable 27-20 victory in their clash at Eden Park. A try from centre Tamati Ellison and a score either side of half time from winger Rico Gear put the visitors in control and when flanker Adam Thomson crossed on the hour mark the result looked beyond doubt. But back came the Blues with tries from props Tevita Mailau and Tony Woodcock but it was not enough to prevent the Highlanders from notching only their second Super Rugby success in Auckland.

"We weren't working hard enough in the first-half," Highlanders skipper Jamie Mackintosh said. "They came out desperate, created a lot of opportunities and were playing really well. We were just lucky enough to score those tries just before and just after half-time and that made a big difference."

The Cheetahs defeated the Waratahs 35-34 in a thriller at Free State Stadium. The hosts were 10 points down at the break after a Sitaleki Timani brace and further tries from Dave Dennis and Rob Horne. Willie Le Roux - who finished with a double - and WP Nel bagged second-half tries for the Cheetahs to complement earlier scores from scrum-half Petrus van Zyl and hooker Adriaan Strauss.

In a basement battle on Saturday, the Western Force picked up their third win of the season, beating the Lions 17-11. The visitors started well and were a try to the good after only three minutes thanks to Michael Killian, but the Force put an error-strewn first-half behind them to pull clear in the second. Skipper David Pocock finished well from close range for their first try, with Napolioni Nalaga sealing the win 10 minutes from time.

"Very happy with the win," Pocock tolf AFP. "They were very tough for the whole game, we had to spread the ball a bit and get them running."

Pos Team P W D L Bye F A PD TF TA TBP LBP Pts
1 Brumbies 11 7 0 4 2 302 237 +65 33 21 4 4 44
2 Reds 12 7 0 5 1 263 289 -26 27 30 2 2 36
3 Melbourne Rebels 12 4 0 8 2 273 398 -125 27 47 2 3 29
4 Waratahs 12 4 0 8 1 269 288 -19 25 28 2 6 28
5 Force 12 2 0 10 1 239 331 -92 22 36 2 5 19

New Zealand
Pos Team P W D L Bye F A PD TF TA TBP LBP Pts
1 Chiefs 12 10 0 2 2 330 247 +83 35 18 4 1 53
2 Highlanders 13 9 0 4 1 307 288 +19 30 21 2 2 44
3 Crusaders 12 8 0 4 1 346 257 +89 32 25 3 3 42
4 Hurricanes 13 7 0 6 1 405 370 +35 49 35 7 1 40
5 Blues 13 2 0 11 1 263 364 -101 23 44 0 5 17

South African
Pos Team P W D L Bye F A PD TF TA TBP LBP Pts
1 Stormers 11 10 0 1 2 245 171 +74 19 12 0 1 49
2 Bulls 12 8 0 4 2 371 274 +97 38 27 4 4 48
3 Sharks 12 7 0 5 1 317 265 +52 33 24 5 4 41
4 Cheetahs 12 4 0 8 1 311 337 -26 26 32 1 6 27
5 Lions 11 1 0 10 2 194 319 -125 17 36 0 2 14

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