Mon, May 01, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Postseason picture clears up in Super 14

AP , CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA

Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn, left, fends off Stormers prop JD Moller during a Super 14 match at Newlands in Cape Town, South Africa, Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

The Super 14 playoffs picture firmed after 12th-round matches Saturday, with New South Wales, Canterbury, Wellington and the ACT Brumbies in a leading pack that looks set for postseason play.

The Crusaders were left in second place in the table after an upset 28-17 loss to the ninth-placed Stormers in Cape Town -- Canterbury's first defeat of the season. The Waratahs lead on points differential.

The Wellington Hurricanes beat fellow New Zealand side Waikato 35-10 and the Brumbies defeated Australian rival Queensland 36-0 with bonus-point wins Saturday.

The Waratahs and Crusaders have 42 points, followed by the Hurricanes on 39, the Brumbies 37, the Bulls 33 and the Sharks 29.

In other late matches Saturday, the Bulls beat the Sharks 34-27 in Pretoria, and Auckland won 34-33 at the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Flyhalf Peter Grant scored 18 points for the Stormers. He missed four other penalty kicks but managed to convert two of the Stormers' three tries, kick three penalties and score a try himself as the South African team took its first home win of the season.

The Stormers shocked the Crusaders in the first minute as captain De Wet Barry poached a poor pass by Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn and ran over unchallenged to score under the poles.

Stand-in flyhalf Cameron Shepherd kicked a penalty, but Grant kicked two.

When Grant took an outside gap at the end of a Stormers attack three minutes after the restart and bounced over for his try, the Stormers appeared to have built enough of a cushion -- especially when he kicked another penalty before the Crusaders managed to add to their tally.

The Crusaders eventually went over through flanker Tony Leo'o. With Daniel Carter kicking the conversion.

But Springboks prop Eddie Andrews took an inside pass from Grant as the Stormers launched an attack on the Crusaders' line and he crashed over for the winning try.

Grant converted, and the Crusaders scored a consolation try on the stroke of fulltime through Rico Gear.

Cheetahs flyhalf Meyer Bosman missed a stoppage-time conversion at the Free State Stadium that would have snatched victory for his team.

The Blues took a 34-28 lead in the 74th minute and secured a bonus point through their fourth try by Joe Rokocoko. However, late pressure by the Cheetahs resulted in hooker Tiaan Liebenberg crashing through the visiting defense to touch down. Bosman then missed his kick from close to the right-hand touchline.

The Cheetahs had led 25-20 at halftime and took two bonus points -- one for scoring five tries and the other for losing by fewer than seven points.

The Bulls scored a try after three minutes through hooker Gary Botha, setting the tone for a first half during which the Bulls secured a bonus point for four tries and ran up a seemingly unassailable 27-3 lead with two tries by Bakkies Botha and one by center J.P. Nel.

Eighteen minutes into the second half, the Sharks were able to penetrate when Percy Montgomery shrugged off a poor tackle close to the line for a try.

The Sharks struck again directly from the kick off when center Andries Strauss crossed wide on the right.

As the Sharks sensed a possible upset, they attacked with abandon, and paid the price as captain John Smit lost the ball inside the Bulls' 22-meter zone and Nel rounded off a counterattack with a try under the poles.

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