3/18/2006

Brumbies beaten in Auckland


The CA Brumbies have had their unbeaten Super 14 streak snapped by a desperate Blues outfit in Auckland tonight.


The Blues converted an 18-nil half-time advantage into a 26-15 victory over the Brumbies, who payed the price for failing to capitalise on a number of scoring opportunities early in the match.


Man-of-the-match Blues centre Anthony Tuitavake, Troy Flavell and Isa Nacewa scored tries for the home team, while Clyde Rathbone and Joel Wilson crossed for the Brumbies.


Brumbies captain Stirling Mortlock was twice denied a try in the first half, one which was called back for a knock-on in the 16th minute, and another where he took an intercept and raced 55 metres only to have a teammate ruled off-side in the defensive line.


Both teams started the match tentatively, but it was the Brumbies who looked most threatening in the early exchanges.


The away side created several scoring opportunities in the opening twenty minutes, but just as it seemed the Blues defence was about to crack, a spilled ball by Brumbies lock Al Campbell sent Anthony Tuitavake streaking down field to send the Blues on the attack.


Tuitavake combined with winger Joe Rokocoko, who shredded defenders to put the Blues within scoring range.
Only a desperate diving try-saving tackle from Clyde Rathbone prevented the All Blacks' try machine from scoring the opening try, but just three minutes later after sustained pressure, flanker Troy Flavell crashed over on the right hand side of the field.


With Isa Nacewa's sixth minute penalty goal already on the scoreboard, the Blues had opened up an 8-0 lead after 25 minutes.


Nacewa converted a second attempt at penalty goal when Mortlock's intercept try was ruled back for offside in the 27th minute to stretch the advantage to 11-0.


Mark Gerrard missed a shot at penalty before Tuitavake handed his team a match-winning lead.


Tasesa Lavea stripped the ball from Brumbies fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper and passed to Tuitavake, who ran through an attempted tackle from Gene Fairbanks (who was dazed after a head clash in the previous phase) before bolting 35 metres to score under the posts.


Nacewa's conversion catapulted the Blues to an 18-0 advantage in a first half which saw an equal share of mistakes from both teams.


The Blues fullback extended the lead to 21-0 when he kicked his third penalty goal two minutes after the break, but seven minutes later their defence finally crumbled.


Jone Tawake took a quick tap after the Brumbies were awarded a penalty from a scrum ten metres out from the Blues line.


From the ensuing phase George Gregan threw a flat pass to Fairbanks who popped the ball inside for a charging Rathbone who powered through from six metres out to score under the posts.


Gerrard's conversion made the score 21-7, however the joy was short-lived for the Brumbies when the Blues scored their third try through Nacewa at the half-way point of the second half.


Tasesa Lavea kicked across field to the left hand side of the Brumbies' defence where Joe Rokocoko plucked the ball out of the air and found Anthony Tuitavake backing up on the inside.


Tuitavake headed for the left corner before flicking a pass inside to Nacewa who ran in untouched to score the try.
Stirling Mortlock kicked a penalty goal with fifteen minutes remaining to reduce the defecit to 26-10, but the vistors' couldn't muster their second try until the 76th minute, when Joel Wilson crashed over out wide to make the final scrore 26-15 to the Blues.


Mortlock was a standout, threatening the line each time he carried the ball, but in the end it was a night of missed opportunities for the previously undefeated Brumbies.


Blues 26 (Troy Flavell, Anthony Tuitavake, Isa Nacewa tries; Nacewa conversion, 3 penalty goals) defeated CA Brumbies 15 (Clyde Rathbone, Joel Wilson tries; Mark Gerrard conversion; Stirling Mortlock penalty goal) at Eden Park, Auckland, NZ