The CA Brumbies have been edged out 39-34 in a thrilling Investec Bank Super 14 encounter against the Blues at Eden Park tonight.
After holding a 16-10 half-time lead, the CA Brumbies suffered a horror 10-minute period immediately after the break that saw the Blues run in three tries. The 19-point run established a match-winning second half lead for the home side and capped off the celebrations for captain Keven Mealamu’s 100th match for the province.
The woes of the second term were compounded with George Smith (shoulder) and Christian Lealiifano (knee) forced off the field through injury. While Lealiifano is expected to have an extended stint on the sideline, Smith will undergo scans with his fitness to be determined during the week.
The CA Brumbies clawed back with 12 points in the final 12 minutes of the match before Blues flyahlf Stephen Brett calmly slotted a close-range drop goal to seal the five-tries-to-three result.
For a second week running, it was left to the CA Brumbies’ front row to cross for the first try of the match with prop Salesi Ma’afu obliging. The hulking tighthead drove over from the base of a ruck on the Blues’ line with Matt Giteau converting to give his side a seven-point lead after as many minutes.
Blues flyhalf Stephen Brett and Giteau swapped penalty goals in the 11th and 16th minutes respectively before All Blacks winger Joe Rokocoko touched down underneath the posts with Brett locking up the scores at 10-all.
Giteau added a further two penalty goals in the final 15 minutes of the half to give the ACT side a six-point lead at the interval.
Within four minutes of the second stanza the Blues had run in two tries. Rene Ranger recorded the first down the left hand side before the Blues outside centre sparked the second with a bust in his own quarter that led to Benson Stanley reaching out to score in the same corner.
Trailing 22-16, Giteau temporarily stemmed the flow of points with a 48th minute penalty goal before a deft cross-field kick from Brett to Rokocoko set up the flying winger for his second touchdown of the match.
Giteau added another penalty (53rd minute) to draw the CA Brumbies to within seven at 29-22 before Isaia Toeava gave his side a 14-point buffer when he sliced through to score at the 54-minute mark.
Determined not to lose touch with their hosts, the CA Brumbies responded four minutes later when replacement hooker Huia Edmonds picked up the ball at the back of the ruck and ran around the defence for his second try of the year. The uprights denied Giteau the conversion with the CA Brumbies trailing 36-27.
With five minutes remaining, Patrick Phibbs marked his 50th Super Rugby match for the CA Brumbies with a five-pointer under the posts. The replacement scrumhalf charged onto short pass from a rampaging Rocky Elsom to run away and score adjacent to the posts.
Giteau’s conversion set up a tense final five minutes before Brett’s drop goal extended the final advantage to 39-34.
The CA Brumbies will return home to front the Chiefs at Canberra Stadium on Friday, 26 March.
Blues 39 (Joe Rokocoko 2; Rene Ranger, Benson Stanley, Isaia Toeava tries; Stephen Brett 4/5 conversions, 1/2 penalty goals, 1/1 drop goal) defeated CA Brumbies 34 (Salesi Ma’afu, Huia Edmonds, Patrick Phibbs tries; Matt Giteau 2/3 conversions, 5/5 penalty goals) at Eden Park, Auckland.
Half time: CA Brumbies 16-10
Referee: Mark Lawrence (RSA)
Crowd: Not announced
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore
3. Salesi Ma’afu
4. Ben Hand
5. Mark Chisholm
6. Rocky Elsom
7. George Smith
8. Stephen Hoiles (c)
9. Josh Valentine
10. Matt Giteau
11. Francis Fainifo
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Tyrone Smith
14. Pat McCabe
15. Adam Ashley-Cooper
16. Huia Edmonds
17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa
18. Justin Harrison
19. Mitchell Chapman
20. Patrick Phibbs
21. Matt Toomua
22. Andrew Smith
17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa for 3. Salesi Ma’afu (16th minute – blood)
3. Salesi Ma’afu for 17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa (19th minute – blood return)
19. Mitchell Chapman for 7. George Smith (48th minute)
16. Huia Edmonds for 2. Stephen Moore (53rd minute)
22. Andrew Smith for 11. Andrew Smith (53rd minute)
18. Justin Harrison for 5. Mark Chisholm (54th minute)
21. Matt Toomua for 12. Christian Lealiifano (65th minute)
20. Patrick Phibbs for 9. Josh Valentine (68th minute)
17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa for 3. Salesi Ma’afu (75th minute)
1. Tony Woodcock
2. Keven Mealamu (c)
3. John Afoa
4. Kurtis Haiu
5. Anthony Boric
6. Jerome Kaino
7. Serge Lilo
8. Viliami Ma’afu
9. Alby Mathewson
10. Stephen Brett
11. Rudi Wulf
12. Benson Stanley
13. Rene Ranger
14. Joe Rokocoko
15. Isaia Toeava
16. Tom McCartney
17. Charlie Faumuina
18. Filo Paulo
19. Peter Saili
20. Chris Smylie
21. Daniel Kirkpatrick
22. Paul Williams
Investec Bank Super 14: Week Seven
CA Brumbies v Chiefs
Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Friday, 26 March 2010
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