The University of Canberra Brumbies have salvaged a single-bonus point after going down 30-23 against the Crusaders on Sunday.
With George Smith breaking George Gregan’s record of 136 club caps, a strong crowd of almost 17,000 turned through the gates at Bruce but it wasn’t enough to urge the Brumbies to victory.
The Crusaders were strong in defence and took advantage of a series of turnovers the Brumbies produced to score three tries to two. Dan Carter packed his kicking boots and landed six from six, most from the sideline.
The loss was the University of Canberra Brumbies first at home in 2013 and second of the year.
“The three team we didn’t play last year were the Stormers, Kings and Crusaders, and I feel like we’ve taken too long testing the water against those teams and haven’t been decisive enough in how to get into the game,” Head Coach Jake White said.
“By the 60th minute, it’s too late to be having a crack. It’s certainly a lesson we’ve learned tonight that we can take forward in this competition.
“I have no doubt that we’ll come up against the Crusaders again this year and we will need to be better than that to beat them and have a chance of winning the tournament.”
The match started with a series of kicking exchanges, with neither team prepared to play out of their own half. With the Crusaders on the attack, the Brumbies managed to score 10 points against the run of play.
Flyhalf Matt Toomua swooped on a Carter ball to dart 70 meters and score untouched, but it would be the only break the Brumbies would make for the opening 40 minutes. By halftime the Crusaders had maintained constant pressure and a whopping 74 per cent of possession.
Long range shots at goal from Jesse Mogg and Nic White fell short and when Andy Ellis darted over from the back of a disintegrated scrum, the scores were locked at 10-10 as the siren sounded for halftime.
Looking more energised after the break, the Brumbies found themselves in good field position with an opportunity to sneak in front. But more mistakes led to turnovers and the Crusaders went from coast to coast on two occasions as Israel Dagg and Zac Guildford cemented a commanding lead, 30-13.
A penalty to Christian Lealiifano and comeback try to Captain and Man of the Match, Ben Mowen, gave the home side a sniff. But ultimately they’d left their run too late with the Crusaders holding tight for a seven point win.
The University of Canberra Brumbies remain on top of the Super Rugby table and head into next week’s bye looking for a bigger effort the following week against the Waratahs in Sydney.
Crusaders 30 (Israel Dagg, Andrew Ellis, Zac Guildford tries Daniel Carter 3 cons; 3 pens) bt University of Canberra Brumbies 23 (Ben Mowen, Matt Toomua tries; Christian Lealiifano, Toomua cons; Lealiifano 3 pens) at Canberra Stadium. Referee: Craig Joubert. Crowd: 16,544.
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore (replaced by Siliva Siliva)
3. Dan Palmer (replaced by Scott Sio)
4. Peter Kimlin
5. Sam Carter (replaced by Leon Power)
6. Fotu Auelua (replaced by Colby Faingaa)
7. George Smith
8. Ben Mowen ©
9. Nic White (replaced by Ian Prior)
10. Matt Toomua
11. Joe Tomane
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Tevita Kuridrani (replaced by Pat McCabe)
14. Henry Speight
15. Jesse Mogg (replaced by Robbie Coleman)
16. Siliva Siliva
17. Scott Sio
18. Leon Power
19. Colby Faingaa
20. Ian Prior
21. Robbie Coleman
22. Pat McCabe
Minute by Minute Stats
Start Time: 4.05pm
Referee: Craig Joubert
Crowd: 16, 544
Brumbies: 23 Crusaders: 30
Toomua, Mowen Ellis, Guildford, Dagg
Lealiifano 2/2 Carter 3/3
Lealiifano 3/4, White 0/1 Carter 3/3
As it happened
6th Min: First penalty of the match going to the Crusaders, for a scrum infringement. Crusaders find touch over half way.
7th Min: Intercept try to the Brumbies! Matt Toomua intercepts a pass from Crusaders flyhalf Dan Carter and runs 80m to score.
Brumbies: 5 Crusaders: 0
9th Min: Christian Lealiifano converts the try.
Brumbies: 7 Crusaders: 0
10th Min: Brumbies are awarded their first penalty of the game, after Ben Mowen is quick to stay on his feet in the ruck and cause the penalty. Lealiifano lines up for goal 40m out.
11th Min: Lealiifano converts the penalty.
Brumbies: 10 Crusaders: 0
13th Min: Crusaders are awarded a penalty for a an offside infringement by the Brumbies. Crusaders opt to take penalty shot.
14th Min: Dan Carter nails his first shot.
Brumbies: 10 Crusaders: 3
16th Min: Crusaders are awarded another penalty after stealing the ball from the Brumbies in the ruck. They find touch deep into Brumbies territory.
18th Min: After many phases attacking the Brumbies line, the defence of the Brumbies hold and the Crusaders are held up over the line. Scrum awarded to the Crusaders.
19th Min: Another great defensive effort by the Brumbies holding up another Crusader as he crossed the line. Scrum to the Crusaders.
21st Min: The Brumbies defense finally cracks and halfback Andy Ellis picks the ball off the scrum and scores in the corner.
Brumbies: 10 Crusaders: 8
22nd Min: Carter converts the conversion easily from the sideline.
Brumbies: 10 Crusaders: 10
29th Min: Penalty awarded to the Brumbies, after a long attack from the Crusaders. They find touch over halfway.
30th Min: Brumbies attack off their lineout but Dan Palmer is penalized for not releasing the ball in the ruck. Carter finds touch on the 22m line.
31st Min: Penalty to the Brumbies off the linout.
33rd Min: First knock on of the match by the Brumbies, after strongly attacking the Crusaders line.
34th Min: Penalty to the Crusaders from the scrum, Carter’s kick reaches the touchline.
35th Min: Knock on off the lineout by the Crusaders, scrum to the Brumbies just over halfway.
37th Min: Penalty awarded to the Brumbies for a Crusader not releasing the ball in the ruck, Jesse Mogg handed the ball for a long range penalty shot.
38th Min: Mogg’s kick doesn’t make the distance. Score remains Brumbies 10 Crusaders 10.
39th Min: Knock on by the Brumbies. Scrum to the Saders.
Half Time Brumbies: 10 Crusaders: 10
49th Min: Try to the Crusaders. Winger Zac Guildford is on the end of quick hands and scores in the corner.
Brumbies: 10 Crusaders: 15
50th Min: Carter converts the try.
Brumbies: 10 Crusaders: 17
51st Min: Change to the Brumbies, Scott Sio replaces Dan Palmer at prop.
52nd Min: Pat Mccabe replaces Tevita Kuridrani at outside centre.
52nd Min: Penalty to the Crusaders for an incorrect entry to the ruck. Carter kicks for touch.
56th Min: Penalty again to the Crusaders after attacking the Brumbies line. They opt to take the penalty kick.
57th Min: Carter converts the penalty.
Brumbies: 10 Crusaders: 20
59th Min: Knock on by the Crusaders off a lineout. Scrum to the Brums.
60th Min: Brumbies are awarded a penalty from the scrum. Opt to take penalty shot.
62nd Min: Lealiifano misses the penalty. Score remains Brumbies 10 Crusaders 10.
63rd Min: Penalty to the Crusaders. Carter is again given the ball for a shot at goal.
64th Min: Carter once again converts.
Brumbies: 10 Crusaders: 23
66th Min: Penalty to the Brumbies after attacking the line. Lealiifano is given the ball for a penalty shot.
67th Min: Lealiifano converts the penalty.
Brumbies: 13 Crusaders: 23
69th Min: The Crusaders knock on deep in Brumbies territory. Scrum to the ACT.
70th Min: Brumbies awarded a penalty after Crusaders halfback Willi Heiinz attacked the ball from an offside position. Brums find touch over half way.
72nd Min: A mistake by Brumbies forward Peter Kimlin, allows the Crusaders to run the length of the field with Israel Dagg finishing off the try.
Brumbies: 13 Crusaders: 28
72nd Min: Carter converts.
Brumbies: 13 Crusaders:30
73rd Min: Brumbies hit back straight away with a try to captain Ben Mowen. Lealiifano converts.
Brumbies: 20 Crusaders: 30
78th Min: After brutally attacking the Crusaders line, the Brumbies are awarded a penalty. They opt to take a shot at goal.
79th Min: Lealiifano converts.
Brumbies: 23 Crusaders: 30