CA Brumbies beaten in New Zealand crusade

The CA Brumbies are counting the cost of their 34-3 loss to the Crusaders in their Investec Super 14 Week One clash at AMI Stadium with Gene Fairbanks and Adam Ashley-Cooper forced off field with injury tonight.

Fairbanks (shoulder) and Ashley-Cooper (ankle) were left the field midway through the first half with the Crusaders going on to take the match four tries to none.

With three Wallabies – Stirling Mortlock, Mark Chisholm and Clyde Rathbone – unavailable, the visitors’ new generation were on show with Joshua Holmes, Huia Edmonds and Christian Lealiifano performing admirably from the outset in their CA Brumbies’ debut while Tyrone Smith created several opportunities in his first Investec Super 14 appearance.

In the absence of his Test teammates, CA Brumbies flanker George Smith was outstanding in the captain’s role, leading from the front with a trademark high-involvement performance.

CA Brumbies Head Coach Laurie Fisher said his side would learn from tonight’s result.

“We were up against a quality side tonight and Dan Carter conducted the orchestra pretty well,” he said. “But that said, we defended well through the first half and we created two try-scoring opportunities. I think the weight of possession and field position told in the second half, we started getting tired, they pushed on and there’s your ball game.

“We matched up physically pretty well, they got some yardage out of their pick-and-drive but I think we worked pretty well through that part of the game.”

Fisher said his young halves combination of Holmes and Lealiifano would benefit from tonight’s experience.

“They [Lealiifano and Holmes] went okay but the main thing is that they got some good experience in high-pressure positions,” he said. “But you’ve got to remember you’re talking about a guy making his debut and a guy with a handful of games, so they’ll be better for the run and it’s now about continuing to improve week in, week out.”

Both sides were guilty of countless handling errors and turnovers as a result of the soaked AMI Stadium pitch with players struggling with the greasy ball and unstable footing throughout the match.

The visitors created two try-scoring opportunities in the first term with Edmonds initialising the first with a 40-metres bust before Tyrone Smith showed excellent footwork before fearlessly regathering his own short kick on half time only to have both chances denied by a spilt last pass with the try line in sight.

The Crusaders rampaging No.8 Mose Tuiali’i compounded the errors by charging through for his first of two tries for a 10-3 lead at the break.

Deprived of possession for long periods throughout the match, the CA Brumbies were forced to rely on their strong scrambling defence to stay in the match during the early stages of the second term. Fullback Julian Huxley and Holmes combined in an outstanding last-ditch effort on opposing lock Ali Williams with Television Match Official Kade McBride eventually confirming the pair had knocked the ball free in the tackle.

Unfortunately the ‘no try’ only momentarily prevented a last quarter flow of points with Tuiali’i and Thorn crossing for tries while Carter kept the score ticking over throughout the match with four conversions, two penalties and a full-time try of his own.

The CA Brumbies return to Australia tomorrow to play the Highlanders in their Investec Super 14 Week Two match at Canberra Stadium on 23 February.

Crusaders 34 (Mose Tuiali’i 2; Brad Thorn, Daniel Carter tries; Daniel Carter 4 conversions, 2 penalty goals) defeated CA Brumbies 3 (Julian Huxley penalty goal) at AMI Stadium, Christchurch.
Referee: Mark Lawrence (RSA)
Half time: Crusaders 10-3
Crowd: 16,500

CA Brumbies
1. Nic Henderson
2. Huia Edmonds
3. Guy Shepherdson
4. Alister Campbell
5. Adam Wallace-Harrison
6. Jone Tawake
7. George Smith (c)
8. Stephen Hoiles
9. Joshua Holmes
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Peter Playford
12. Gene Fairbanks
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper
14. Mark Gerrard
15. Julian Huxley

16. Saia Faingaa
17. Salesi Ma’afu
18. Peter Kimlin
19. Julian Salvi
20. Patrick Phibbs
21. Tyrone Smith
22. Francis Fainifo

21. Tyrone Smith replaced 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (27th minute)
22. Francis Fainifo replaced 12. Gene Fairbanks (40th minute)
19. Julian Salvi replaced 6. Jone Tawake (44th minute)
18. Peter Kimlin replaced 5. Adam Wallace-Harrison (51st minute)
16. Saia Faingaa replaced 2. Huia Edmonds (55th minute)
17. Salesi Ma’afu replaced 3. Guy Shepherdson (65th minute)
20. Patrick Phibbs replaced 9. Joshua Holmes (71st minute)
3. Guy Shepherdson replaced 1. Nic Henderson (77th minute)

1. Ben Franks
2. Corey Flynn
3. Greg Somerville
4. Brad Thorn
5. Ali Williams
6. Kieran Read
7. Richard McCaw (c)
8. Mose Tuiali'i
9. Kahn Fotuali'i
10. Daniel Carter
11. Scott Hamilton
12. Stephen Brett
13. Casey Laulala
14. Kade Poki
15. Leon MacDonald

16. Ti'i Paulo
17. Wyatt Crockett
18. Michael Paterson
19. Nasi Manu
20. Andrew Ellis
21. Tim Bateman
22. Sean Maitland


Investec Super 14 Week Two
CA Brumbies v Highlanders
Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Saturday, 23 February 2008