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Brumbies add to Crusaders' misery; Blues go back top

SATURDAY WRAP: The Brumbies ended a 15-year winless streak against the Crusaders on Saturday.

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The Canberra-based franchise posted a dramatic 31-24 win that left the defending champions with little hope of reaching the Super Rugby Pacific play-offs.

A penalty try after the full-time hooter consigned the Crusaders to a record 10th defeat of the season, leaving them with only a small mathematical chance of playing in next month’s quarterfinals.

Trailing 7-17 at halftime, the 13-time champions from Christchurch produced some of the best play of a disjointed campaign to level the scores entering the final five minutes.

However, an 80th-minute penalty shot at goal from Brumbies flyhalf Noah Lolesio struck an upright before Crusaders lock Quinten Strange illegally batted the ball over the dead ball line.

Referee Ben O’Keeffe deemed a Brumbies’ try would probably have been scored without Strange’s foul play, awarding a penalty try which was disputed by some of the Crusaders players.

Captain Codie Taylor couldn’t hide his frustration following a first loss to the Brumbies since 2009.

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“We gave ourselves a crack but it’s a tough way to finish a game like that,” Taylor said.

“I’m proud of the boys. There’s a lot of effort out there but we can’t quite string it together.”

Brumbies fullback Tom Wright was a constant threat and scored two of their four tries while Crusaders winger Sevu Reece crossed for his 12th try of the season, three more than any other player in the competition.

The Brumbies win means the top four teams to host quarterfinals have been determined with two rounds still to be played in the regular season.

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* They are the competition-leading Blues – who thrashed the Highlanders 47-13 – Hurricanes, Brumbies and Chiefs.

Hooker Kurt Eklund scored two tries as the Blues pack overwhelmed the Highlanders at Eden Park, setting up four unanswered tries in the second half.

A bonus point lifted the Blues three points clear of the second-placed Hurricanes.

Earlier, Suva-born Suliasi Vunivalu was sent off in a homecoming to forget as the Reds lost 19-28 to the Fijian Drua.

Reds wing Vunivalu was shown two yellow cards – both for foot-tripping – resulting in a red card that left the fifth-placed visitors one man down for much of the second half in heat-sapping Suva conditions.

The eighth-placed Drua notched a fifth win from six home matches this season, with captain Tevita Ikanivere crossing for two tries.

They were also awarded an early penalty try, conceded by Vunivalu when he tripped Kitione Salawa as the Drua flank closed on the try-line.

The home side stayed in front throughout, aided by Vunivalu’s trip on opposite number Selestino Ravutaumada during a Drua attacking raid soon after the interval.

** In the late match the Western Force kept their play-off dreams alive with a 27-7 win over the Waratahs – the latter remaining rooted to the bottom of the table.

All Saturday’s scores and scorers follow below …

Fijian Drua 28-19 Reds

Scorers:

For Drua:
Tries: Ikanivere 2, Penalty
Cons: Ravula
Pens: Ravula 2, Valetini

For Reds:
Tries: Aubrey, Creighton, Blake
Cons: Creighton 2

Teams:

Drua: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Waqa Nalaga, 11 Epeli Momo, 10 Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, 9 Simione Kuruvoli, 8 Elia Canakaivata, 7 Kitione Salawa, 6 Etonia Waqa, 5 Isoa Nasilasila, 4 Mesake Vocevoce, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Tevita Ikanivere, 1 Jone Koroiduadua.
Replacements: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Emosi Tuqiri, 18 Samu Tawake, 19 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20 Vilive Miramira, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Kemu Valetini, 23 Taniela Rakuro.

Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Taj Annan, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Floyd Aubrey, 10 Lawson Creighton, 9 Tate McDemortt, 8 John Bryant, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright, 5 Cormac Daly, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Zane Nonggorr, 2 Josh Nasser, 1 Peni Ravai.
Replacements: 16 George Blake, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 Seru Uru, 20 Joe Brial, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 James O’Connor, 23 Tim Ryan.

Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Matt Kellahan; Jeremy Markey
TMO: Brett Cronan

Brumbies 31-24 Crusaders

Scorers:

For Brumbies:
Tries: Muirhead, Wright 2, Valetini, Penalty
Cons: Lolesio 2

For Crusaders:
Tries: McNicholl, Reece, Hotham
Cons: Burke 3
Pens: Fihaki

Teams:

Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Tamati Tua, 11 Ollie Sapsford, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Nick Frost, 5 Caderyn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Connal McInerney, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Liam Bowron, 17 Rhys van Nek, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Tom Hooper, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Ben O’Donnell.

Crusaders: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Chay Fihaki, 13 Jone Rava, 12 David Havili, 11 Sevu Reece, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Noah Hotham, 8 Christian Lio-Willie, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Antonio Shalfoon, 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 George Bell, 17 George Bower, 18 Seb Calder, 19 Jamie Hannah, 20 Dominic Gardner, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Rivez Reihana, 23 Macca Springer.

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Stu Curran; Jackson Henshaw
TMO: Glenn Newman

Blues 47-13 Highlanders

Scorers:

For Blues:
Tries: Tu’ungafasi, Forbes, Eklund 2, Banks, Funaki, Clarke
Cons: Plummer 6

For Highlanders:
Tries: Tavatavanawai
Cons: Millar
Pens: Millar 2

Teams:

Blues: 15 Cole Forbes, 14 AJ Lam, 13 Bryce Heem, 12 Corey Evans, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papali’i (captain), 6 Adrian Choat, 5 Sam Darry, 4 Laghlan McWhannell, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Mason Tupaea, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Josh Beehre, 20 Cameron Suafoa, 21 Taufa Funaki, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Kade Banks

Highlanders: 15 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, 14 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 13 Tanielu Tele’a, 12 Jake Te Hiwi, 11 Martín Bogado, 10 Cameron Millar, 9 Folau Fakatava, 8 Nikora Broughton, 7 Sean Withy, 6 Oliver Haig, 5 Fabian Holland, 4 Mitch Dunshea, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Henry Bell, 1 Ethan de Groot (captain).
Replacements: 16 Jack Taylor, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Saula Ma’u, 19 Will Tucker, 20 Will Stodartt, 21 James Arscott, 22 Sam Gilbert, 23 Finn Hurley.

Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: Dan Waenga; Mike Winter
TMO: Richard Kelly

Western Force 27-7 Waratahs

The scorers

For the Western Force
Tries: Kuenzle, Donaldson, Prinsep
Cons: Donaldson 3
Pens: Donaldson 2

For the Waratahs
Try: Nawaqanitawase
Con: Harrison

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 George Poolman, 13 Bayley Kuenzle, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Chase Tiatia, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Nic White, 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Will Harris, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Jeremy Williams, 3 Sanitago Medrano, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Harry Hoopert.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Marley Pearce, 18 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 19 Lopeti Faifua, 20 Michael Wells, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22 Sam Spink, 23 Henry O’Donnell.

Waratahs: 15 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 14 Triston Reilly, 13 Joey Walton, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Lachie Swinton, 5 Miles Amatosero, 4 Fergus Lee-Warner, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Jay Fonokalafi, 1 Lewis Ponini.
Replacements: 16 Ben Sugars, 17 George Thornton, 18 Brad Amituanai, 19 Hugh Sinclair, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Jack Grant, 22 Tane Edmed, 23 Izaia Perese.

Referee: Jordan Way
Assistant referees: Reuben Keane; Jordan Kaminski
TMO: Kyle Burnett

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