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Blues bash Brumbies in record-setting Super Rugby rout

By AAP
Darcy Swain of the Brumbies looks on during the round nine Super Rugby Pacific match between Blues and ACT Brumbies at Eden Park, on April 20, 2024, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The ACT Brumbies have confessed to copping a brutal beat-down after receiving a reality check with a record-breaking 46-7 Super Rugby Pacific loss to the Blues in Auckland.

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Australia’s benchmark side entered Saturday’s contest with a six-from-seven record this campaign and designs on an all-important top-two finish.

That may yet materialise.

But, for now, Eden Park once again proved Australian rugby’s graveyard as the Blues put the Brumbies to the sword on Saturday with seven tries to one late consolation cross from the vanquished visitors.

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“We just got physically dominated the whole game, really,” said Brumbies captain Ryan Lonergan.

“We had no go forward in attack and we couldn’t seem to slow their ball down at all, or their momentum in defence.

“We had a few opportunities there, I saw that first 20 minutes in the ‘A’ zone and we couldn’t convert that into points and then, yeah, it was all downhill from there.”

Coach Stephen Larkham had hoped the Brumbies’ acid test across the Tasman would send a statement to their rivals.

Instead, the Brumbies suffered their heaviest ever defeat to the Aucklanders in a thorough mismatch between the two sides previously sitting in joint second place.  

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A rout certainly didn’t look on the cards early on.

It was almost impossible to believe the Brumbies found themselves down after Blues halfback Taufa Funaki was yellow-carded for being offside while pulling off a try-saving tackle on Ollie Sapsford.

Fixture
Super Rugby Pacific
Blues
46 - 7
Full-time
Brumbies
All Stats and Data

But a try to big No.8 Hoskins Sotutu, following a bust from flanker Dalton Papali’i, when the Blues were down to 14 men put the hosts up 7-0 against the run of play.

The try proved the turning point of the match.

Starving the Brumbies of possession, the Blues converted their clear dominance into a double-digit lead when destructive winger Caleb Clarke stormed over to bag the Blues’ second try seven minutes from halftime.

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Their third, after the halftime siren following a brain explosion from Brumbies five-eighth Noah Lolesio, was a gut-buster for the visitors.

After the Brumbies defended their line valiantly, Lolesio inexplicably kicked the ball out on the full, believing that would be halftime.

Instead, the blunder earned the Blues a free kick, with Sotutu punishing the error with his second five-pointer to earn his team a 24-0 lead at the break and himself top tryscorer bragging rights in the competition.

Any hopes of a miraculous second-half comeback were snuffed out shortly after the restart, when Papali’i scored off a driving maul before veteran Brumbies prop James Slipper was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle.

Further tries to front-rowers Ricky Riccitelli and Funaki added to the  Brumbies’ woes as their Eden Park hoodoo extended to 11 years.

It doesn’t get any easier next week when the Brumbies host the undefeated table-topping Hurricanes in Canberra.

“We had a similar sort of feeling after the Chiefs (loss) earlier in the season, so it’s disappointing to roll out a similar performance,” Lonergan said.

“Obviously quality teams and we’ve got to want to play these games, so we’ve got a big week of review and then move on nice and fast and get ready for the Canes.” 

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