Brumbies machine rolls into top gear

The CA Brumbies have produced a second half blitzkreig to destroy the Cheetahs 53-20 at Canberra Stadium tonight.

The Brumbies ran in seven tries to two to secure their finest win of the season in front of 17,117 delighted fans.

After holding a slim 18-13 lead at half time, the Brumbies ran in five second half tries, including a rare double to hooker Jeremy Paul in his return to the starting lineup, to run out convincing 33 point winners.

It was a night where the stars came out to play for the Brumbies with two-try hero Paul, George Gregan and Stephen Larkham leading the way for the home side in this season's defining performance for the now third-placed Brumbies.

Matt Giteau made a welcomed return from injury for the home team, opening the scoring in the 5th minute with a penalty goal, before lifting the home crowd with his team's first try ten minutes later.

Giteau did the finishing after Mon-of-the-Match Stephen Larkham split the Cheetahs defence to put the 23-year-old away down the left hand side of the field to give the Brumbies an early 8-0 lead.

The Cheetahs soon answered however when a deft short ball from centre Barry Goodes sent winger Giscard Pieterse through the swarming Brumbies defensive line to score under the posts to reduce the defecit to one point at 8-7.

Giteau and Cheetahs flyhalf Meyer Bosman added penalty goals to make it 11-10 with the Cheetahs' tournament-best lineout keeping them in the contest.

A defensive battle unfolded before George Gregan, who was again dynamic for the Brumbies, speeded through some non-existant Cheetahs ruck defence to touch down under the posts from a sharp 5 metre burst. (His first try for the Brumbies since Week 3, 2003).

A Bosman penalty narrowed the gap to 18-13 at the break, before a Mark Gerrard try six minutes into the second half sparked an avalanche of five-pointers for the Brumbies.

Gregan made yet another bust, this time a 25-metre run to set up the try. On the ensuing phase, a pin-point grubber from Larkham found its way into the hands of Mark Gerrard for the Brumbies' third try.

The Brumbies were denied a fourth try and bonus point moments later when Adam Ashley-Cooper failed to ground the ball after finishing some expansive lead up work from the Brumbies backs.

Upon video review, the second-year fullback was found to have lost control of the ball whilst attempting to ground it in the left hand corner.

His embarassment was short-lived however when his own strong run set up a pushover try from a rolling maul, which was touched down by Jeremy Paul to give the Brumbies a fourth try and a 32-13 lead after 57 minutes.

Nine minutes later Paul, who was starting his first match since Week 1, sealed the result for the Brumbies with his second try of the night.

Cheetahs back-rower Frans Viljeon knocked on from a scrum to hand the Brumbies the ball in good field position before Paul pounced on the end of an inside ball from Larkham to slice through under the posts.

Three minutes later reserve back-rower Radike Samo was pulled down just a metre short of the line before Larkham layed on yet another try with a looping pass to an unmarked George Smith.

The Cheetahs were reduced to mere spectators as the Brumbies rolled down the field, brushing past tired defenders to extend their lead to a commanding 46-13 after the Smith try.

Ronnie Cooke crossed for a consolation try for the Cheetahs, before replacement back Gene Fairbanks drew the Cheetahs right hand side defence to send Clyde Rathbone across for his third try in as many matches.

Rathbone improved the position by running around under the posts to allow Mark Gerrard to maintain his perfect goal-kicking record for the evening, leaving the Canberra Stadium scoreboard at 53-20 to the home team at full-time.

CA Brumbies 53 (Jeremy Paul 2, Matt Giteau, George Gregan, Mark Gerrard, George Smith, Clyde Rathbone tries; Giteau 2 conversions, 2 penalty goals; Gerrard 3 conversions; Morltock conversion) defeated Cheetahs 20 (Giscard Pieterse, Ronnie Cooke tries; Meyer Bosman conversion, 2 penalty goals; Bevin Fortuin conversion) at Canberra Stadium, Canberra, AUS