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Brumbies unbeaten streak ends as Crusaders win big in Christchurch

By AAP
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

A short-handed Brumbies line-up has been brushed aside in Christchurch, smashed 35-17 by the Crusaders in their Super Rugby Pacific clash.

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Two tries for gun winger Leicester Fainga’anuku snuffed any hopes the Brumbies had of pinching an upset win on their first trip to New Zealand for the season.

With seven Wallabies on the shelf through a combination of injuries and Wallabies-enforced rest, the Brumbies were rarely in the contest and never led in the 18-point loss.

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They lacked physicality and were bashed up front, struggling to match the Crusaders’ intensity as they moved to 3-2 for the season.

It’s the Brumbies’ first loss of the season, although they won’t be panicking with top-line stars Len Ikitau, Darcy Swain, Tom Wright, James Slipper, Rob Valetini, Pete Samu and Nic White all set to return to the line-up in the coming weeks.

They were particularly vulnerable in the forwards with two of their seven first-half penalties coming from scrums, with Slipper (rested) Swain (injured) and Allan Alaalatoa (bench) all missing from the pack.

The Brumbies snuck an early penalty goal but were behind soon after when Fainga’anuku crossed off the back of a scrum play.

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The home side was 14-3 to the good when centre Braydon Ennor got on the end of a delightful Pepesana Patafilo kick, capping a brilliant counter-attacking play, while hooker Codie Taylor powered over in the shadows of halftime to effectively put the game to bed.

Alaalatoa made an immediate impact when injected in the second half with captain Ryan Lonergan scoring off the back of impressive forward pressure, before Fainga’anuku restored the advantage shortly after.

Brumbies winger Corey Toole dragged them back to 28-17 with 10 minutes to play courtesy of a stunning pass from Rory Scott but Christian Leo-Willie sealed the Crusaders’ bonus point a minute from time.

The loss continues the struggles of Australian teams against their New Zealand opponents this season as both nations tune up for the Rugby World Cup.

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