Brumbies capture second title in thriller
May 22, 2004
The Brumbies celebrate with the Super 12 trophy after securing a thrilling victory
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The Brumbies have captured their second Super 12 title with a stunning 47-38 win against the Crusaders in Canberra.
The 13-try bonanza was the biggest aggregate score in a Super 12 final. The win was set up by a five-try opening blitz that blew the Brumbies out to a 33-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The Crusaders staged a brilliant comeback to reduce the lead to 40-28 with 10 minutes remaining, but a try to departing fullback Joe Roff in the 72nd minute ensured a Brumbies title.
The Crusaders scored two more tries in the final five minutes, but it was too late. Roff's try took him to a record 57 Super 12 tries, one ahead of former All Back Christian Cullen.
The Brumbies scored seven tries to six and led 33-14 at half-time. The Crusaders won the second half four tries to two. Once again the Brumbies were outplayed for possession, but they proved, with the slightest sniff of a try, they were the best attacking side in the competition.
There were many stars for the Brumbies, but none were as spectacular as lock Radike Samo. It was a virtuoso performance by the lanky Fijian, but unfortunately for Australian crowds it will be the last they see of him as he takes up an offer with English club Newcastle.
Stephen Larkham, in his 95th Super 12 game, was brilliant, while coach David Nucifora departs Canberra as the most successful Australian coach in Super 12 history.
The onslaught started immediately for the Brumbies when they pounced on a monumental error by Crusaders fullback Ben Blair for Roff to score in the opening minute. Winger Mark Gerrard was over two minutes later and just as the 10-minute mark ticked over, hooker Jeremy Paul was over for the third try.
The Crusaders were never allowed to settle as the Brumbies defence shut down any hint of attack. The Brumbies were not so hesitant with the ball and two tries in two minutes to Gerrard and inside-centre Matt Giteau completed the opening 20-minute blitz.
Former All Black flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens came off the bench in the 23rd minute and he had a significant influence on an improved Crusaders performance. They had plenty of drive with Mehrtens controlling play and their grinding style was coming to the fore.
The Crusaders closed the first half with tries to flanker Richie McCaw and outside-centre Aaron Mauger, but their momentum was halted when Gerrard secured his hat-trick soon after the break following another Blair error.
But the Crusaders weren't finished and with Mehrtens dominating reduced the lead to 12 points after tries to Brad Thorn (58 min) and Chris King (69 min) before Roff's match-clinching try.
Brumbies 47 Tries: Gerrard 3, Roff 2, Paul, Giteau Conversions: Roff 6.
Crusaders 38 Tries: McCaw, Mauger, Thorn, King, Laulala, Carter Conversions: Carter 4.