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A dynamic Blues outfit ran its way to victory on Saturday, claiming a 30-16 point win in driving-afternoon rain at Canberra Stadium.
A win or losing-bonus point would have guaranteed the University of Canberra Brumbies top spot in the Australian Conference and a crack at the finals. A bonus point win to the Reds has finished the Brumbies charge to the finals..
The afternoon match was supposed to be one of celebration, with veteran hooker Stephen Moore clocking up his 100th game. But the young Brumbies side missed plenty of first up tackles allowing the Blues to unfold the game on their terms and attack from all over the park.
Blues winger Sherwin Stowers was the star for the Auckland based side, covering plenty of territory and causing headaches for the Brumbies backs. He was a late inclusion for the Blues after regular winger Lachie Munro was ruled out close to kick-off.
While Stowers showed brilliance out wide, University of Canberra Brumbies flanker Peter Kimlin worked hard throughout the 80 minutes, eventually claiming man of the match honours.
Further compounding the loss for Head Coach Jake White were injury concerns to Joe Tomane and Dan Palmer, who both left the field. Both players will have medical assessments by Monday.
White was naturally disappointed with the result.
“We went away from the plan as they kicked off. We gave them 14 points in 11 minutes. Everything we spoke about regarding us starting well and keeping them out of the game went out the window,” White said.
“We didn’t build pressure, we didn’t keep the tempo up and it was evident we let ourselves down in that first 20 minutes.
“All credit to the Blues. They got on a role bashing us in tackles and at the breakdown. It’s not an ideal situation, now we’ve got to look and see what happens in the rest of the games this weekend.”
The Blues started at pace and maintained their vigour throughout the first half finding gaps on the edges and through the middle. Tries to Liaki Moli and Daniel Braid came off the back of some loose play by the Blues, with the University of Canberra Brumbies defence failing to react.
A piece of individual brilliance from Henry Speight helped ease the margin, when the Fijian speedster gassed three Blues defenders down the right touchline to claim his eighth try of the season.
But a try with three minutes until the break to Blues winger Hadleigh Parkes put the pressure back on the Brumbies.
The second half was a tryless affair, with both sides trading shots on goal. Blues kickers Piri Weepu and Michael Hobbs had the better of the boot, nailing the Brumbies to their third-home loss of the 2012 season and a nail-biting two days to watch other competition results.
AUCKLAND BLUES 30 (Liaki Moli, Daniel Braid, Hadleigh Parkes tries; Piri Weepu 3 conversions; Piri Weepu 2 penalties, Michael Hobbs) bt UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA BRUMBIES 16 (Henry Speight try: Zack Holmes conversion; Zack Holmes 2, Jesse Mogg penalties) at Canberra Stadium yesterday. Crowd: 14,111. Referee: Jonathon White.
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Ruaidhri Murphy
2. Stephen Moore
3. Dan Palmer (replaced by Scott Sio, 37th minute)
4. Scott Fardy
5. Sam Carter (replaced by Fotu Auelua, 56th minute)
6. Peter Kimlin
7. Michael Hooper
8. Ben Mowen (c)
9. Nic White (replaced by Ian Prior, 80th minute)
10. Zack Holmes
11. Joe Tomane (replaced by Robbie Coleman, 29th minute)
12. Pat McCabe
13. Andrew Smith
14. Henry Speight (replaced by Tevita Kuridrani, 71st minute)
15. Jesse Mogg
16. Anthony Hegarty
17. Scott Sio
18. Leon Power
19. Fotu Auelua
20. Ian Prior
21. Tevita Kuridrani
22. Robbie Coleman