Christchurch loss ends CA Brumbies’ finals crusade

The CA Brumbies’ 2010 season has ended at the hands of the Crusaders in a 40-22 loss at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium tonight.

Needing a win to progress through to the Investec Bank Super 14 finals series, the CA Brumbies trailed 22-10 at the break and were unable to reign in the deficit eventually succumbing five tries to three.

The loss was an unfortunate end to the CA Brumbies career of flanker George Smith who finishes his 11 years of Super Rugby with 129 matches. The final act of his distinguished career with the ACT province was an attempted conversion after full time which was waved away.

CA Brumbies Head Coach Andy Friend said his side was disappointed to bow out of the finals race.

“The effort was good and that’s been the case throughout the season, so we couldn’t fault them there,” he said. “It was George’s last game and we would have liked to send him off on a better note.

“I honestly felt tonight if we were good enough we could have turned up and won that game. There was real belief [from the side] going into that game and when you’ve got that and it doesn’t work then you’ve got real disappointment.”

The CA Brumbies appeared to have a dream start when Matt Giteau intercepted a Crusaders pass and set sail for a 60-metre run to the try line only to be called offside by referee Bryce Lawrence. While Daniel Carter uncharacteristically pushed the resulting penalty goal and a second wide within the first four minutes, the Crusaders weren’t reliant on the flyhalf’s boot for their first points when Sean Maitland finished off an excellent team try that started 10 metres in their own half.

The CA Brumbies responded when Tyrone Smith pounced on a Daniel Bowden pass and carried the intercept 40 metres to score under the posts in the 18th minute, with Giteau’s straightforward conversion leveling the scores at 7-all.

Unfortunately the CA Brumbies’ first try at AMI Stadium since 2004 only spurred on the Cantabrians to put on two tries in three minutes. The first coming when Zac Guildford toed a ball through for a determined Kieran Read to beat the converging defence at the 25-minute mark, before Read was again involved in laying on a try for prop Owen Franks in the right-hand corner.

Giteau and Carter added a penalty goal apiece late in the half with the Crsuaders taking a 12-points advantage to the sheds at half time.

Five minutes into the second term, the CA Brumbies’ willingness to throw the ball around paid dividends when a neat Tyrone Smith flick pass put the finishing touch on a sweeping CA Brumbies movement to allow prop Ben Alexander to cross for his seventh try of the season.

However, ill discipline put the visitors on the back foot with Richie McCaw taking advantage by pushing over for a try with Carter adding a conversion and penalty goal soon after to extend the lead to 32-17 midway through the half.

Another Carter penalty goal and a try to Zac Guildford put the match well beyond doubt at 40-17 with three minutes remaining before the CA Brumbies crossed for a late consolation try through reserve hooker Huia Edmonds. Edmonds’ touchdown after the siren was reward for a strong 63-minute performance off the bench after he replaced Stephen Moore, who was taken to hospital with a broken jaw.

Crusaders 40 (Sean Maitland, Kieran Read, Owen Franks, Richie McCaw, Zac Guildford tries; Daniel Carter 3/4 conversions, 3/5 penalty goals, Daniel Bowden 0/1 conversion) defeated CA Brumbies 22 (Tyrone Smith, Ben Alexander, Huia Edmonds tries; Matt Giteau 2/2 conversions, 1/1 penalty goals, George Smith 0/1 conversion) at AMI Stadium, Christchurch.
Half time: CA Brumbies 17-16
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (NZ)
Crowd: 28,000

CA Brumbies
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore
3. Salesi Ma’afu
4. Mitchell Chapman
5. Mark Chisholm
6. Rocky Elsom
7. George Smith
8. Stephen Hoiles (c)
9. Josh Valentine
10. Matt Toomua
11. Adam Ashley-Cooper
12. Matt Giteau
13. Tyrone Smith
14. Pat McCabe
15. Julian Huxley

16. Huia Edmonds
17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa
18. Ben Hand
19. Colby Faingaa
20. Patrick Phibbs
21. Brackin Karauria-Henry
22. Andrew Smith
16. Huia Edmonds for 2. Stephen Moore (17th minute)
18. Ben Hand for 5. Mark Chisholm (65th minute)
17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa for 3. Salesi Ma’afu (65th minute)
22. Andrew Smith for 15. Julian Huxley (66th minute)
20. Patrick Phibbs for 9. Josh Valentine (66th minute)

1.    Owen Franks
2.    Ti’I Paulo
3.    Ben Franks
4.    Brad Thorne
5.    Sam Whitelock
6.    George Whitelock
7.    Richie McCaw (c)
8.    Keiran Read
9.    Andy Ellis
10. Daniel Carter
11. Zac Guildford
12. Daniel Bowden
13. Robbie Fruen
14. Sean Maitland
15. Colin Slade

16. Daniel Perrin
17. Wyatt Crockett
18. Chris Jack
19. Thomas Waldrom
20. Willi Heinz
21. Tim Bateman
22. Jared Payne