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Brumbies Crowned Super 12 Champions.

Brumbies Crowned Super 12 Champions.

Australia’s ACT Brumbies claimed their second Super 12 rugby crown with a spectacular 47-38 victory over four-time champions Canterbury Crusaders in the final at Canberra Stadium today.

Australia’s ACT Brumbies claimed their second Super 12 rugby crown with a spectacular 47-38 victory over four-time
champions Canterbury Crusaders in the final at Canberra Stadium today.

The Brumbies exploded out of the blocks, surging to a breathless
33-0 lead
in the opening 19 minutes before the Crusaders steadily chipped away
over the
ensuing 60 minutes to go down fighting by nine points.

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ACT scored seven tries to six but their sensational opening laid
platform for victory against a thoroughbred New Zealand combination
refused to accept defeat.

Winger Mark Gerrard scored a hattrick of tries and fullback Joe

playing for the Brumbies for the last time in his 10-year career,
scored two
tries to break the Super 12 record of 56 tries held by former All
fullback Christian Cullen.

Roff ended with 22 points in the final in a memorable finish to
his career.
“It (33-point margin) got us off to a great start and with a
team like the
Crusaders you don’t want to be playing catch-up football,”
Brumbies captain
Owen Finegan said.

“It was just an awesome start. We just started playing a bit
of sevens
footy then – it was a bit scary … it wasn’t the smartest footy but
we got
the result in the end.”

It was an extraordinary start to the final by the Brumbies, who
were up
against their competition nemesis after losing two previous finals to
Crusaders in 2000 and 2002.
Everything the Brumbies attempted in those pulsating opening 20
turned to gold with five tries against the shellshocked Crusaders.

Crusaders fullback Ben Blair had a nightmare match, contributing
to the two
opening tries with mistakes, but it was the injection of All Black
Andrew Mehrtens into the final after 24 minutes that turned around

The Crusaders hit back with two tries to flanker Richie McCaw and
Aaron Mauger to trail 33-14 at halftime and give themselves a chance
staging a dramatic comeback.

Gerrard charged through to seize the ball from a Blair fumble of a
high kick minutes after halftime to post his third try and
push the
Brumbies out to a 40-14 lead, but the New Zealanders clawed back to
40-28 with
11 minutes left as they threw everything at the Brumbies.

Crusaders captain Reuben Thorne was proud of his team’s fightback
lamented the woeful start.
“We had a shocker of a start and against a quality team like
this there’s
no way most sides would ever come back but I’m proud of the way the
guys did
fight back. We clawed out way back into it – almost,” he said.

Roff broke the try-scoring record with his second touchdown of the
and 57th in Super 12 rugby to clinch the match with eight minutes
left, yet
the Crusaders still kept coming.
“It’s amazing the way things pan out it was just a great
night – a night
I’ll always remember,” Roff said.

“I don’t think the Crusaders will begrudge us that one,
they’re a great
side and we’re just so thankful to get a win.”

Replacement Casey Laulala scored in the 78th minute and Canterbury
say die even after the full-time siren sounded and strung together 12
of determined play before Daniel Carter scored off a Mauger grubber

The Brumbies were deserved winners after an outstanding season in
southern hemisphere provincial series.
They recorded eight wins and three defeats in the regular rounds
to finish
six points clear of the second-placed Crusaders.

ACT once again underlined that they have the most potent attack in
Super 12
with their structured and innovative play.
Most of the Crusaders’ tries came through driving mauls, whereas
Brumbies scored several long-distance tries through penetration and
backing up
the ball carrier.

Wallaby flanker George Smith, fly-half Larkham, hooker Jeremy Paul
and lock
Radike Samo were outstanding for the Brumbies, who will also farewell
Giffin, Mark Bartholomeusz
as well as Samo, who has signed with
Newcastle Falcons.

Paul is likely to follow them overseas while ACT coach David
in charge for the last time after his shock mid-season sacking.
“I don’t know what to think right now,” Nucifora said of
his mixed emotions.

“At the moment I’m really happy for the whole group, the
management, the
players and the people of Canberra.”

Nucifora described the game as “crazy” but said the
Brumbies deserved their
win as they had been the best side all year.

AFP – 2004.