Sharks humbled

The Sharks and the New South Wales Waratahs failed to maintain unbeaten records, but held their places in Super 14 rugby after an upset-riddled fifth round.

The Sharks and the New South Wales Waratahs failed to maintain unbeaten records, but held their places in Super 14 rugby after an upset-riddled fifth round.

The Waratahs were beaten 21-11 by the ACT Brumbies on Friday and the Sharks lost 25-13 to the Queensland Reds on Saturday, but remained second and third on the championship table.

The Bulls, who sat out the fifth round with a bye, found themselves still atop the table as their closest chasers failed to capitalise on their inactivity.

Even the Wellington Hurricanes, who were in fourth place before their fifth-round bye, dropped only one rung to fifth behind the Auckland Blues as a series of surprise results compacted the table but only mildly reshaped the leading standings.

Only six points now separate the top-placed Bulls from ninth-placed Western Force. There are only 10 points between first and 11th - the lowly spot occupied by the defending champions, the Canterbury Crusaders.

The Bulls remain the only unbeaten team in the tournament and the Cheetahs, beaten 46-12 on Friday by Auckland in the fifth straight match away from home, are the only team without a win.

The Brumbies set the tone for upsets on Friday when they snapped the Waratahs' four-match winning streak with a physical win in Canberra.

Victory came at a cost and the Brumbies are likely to be without captain Stephen Hoiles for six weeks after the hard-working number 8 suffered a knee ligament tear.

"It's a shame for him. I think he's leading the team really well," Brumbies coach Andy Friend said.

Critics of the Waratahs' unimaginative play this season hailed the win as a punishment for mediocrity.

The Brumbies fielded a more effective backline, marshalled from the centre by Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock, and scored two tries to one. - Sapa-AP

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