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Crusaders ‘let ourselves down’ in heartbreaking loss to Brumbies

By Finn Morton
Crusaders players talk in a huddle during the round 13 Super Rugby Pacific match between ACT Brumbies and Crusaders at GIO Stadium, on May 18, 2024, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Captain Codie Taylor believes the Crusaders “let ourselves down” as the defending champions fell to the Brumbies 31-24 in a defeat that now sees them stand on the brink of elimination.

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Former All Blacks fullback Mils Muliaina boldly suggested the Crusaders were the “one team” that could go to Canberra and upset the Brumbies ahead of the blockbuster round 13 fixture.

The Crusaders were second-last on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder before their trip across the Tasman. While the visitors needed to win, the Brumbies were in a similar boat as they continued to chase a top-two finish.

This clash was all set to be an epic tussle of desperation.

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With time all but up on the clock, and the scores locked at 24-all, Brumbies flyhalf Noah Lolesio missed what would’ve been a match-winning shot at goal but the drama was far from over.

Crusaders lock Quinten Strange batted the ball dead which saw referee Ben O’Keeffe award a penalty try to the Brumbies and a yellow card against the second-rower. In one of the most incredibly stunning finishes to any rugby game ever, that’s how the Brumbies won.

“We gave ourselves a crack,” Codie Taylor said on Stan Sport post-game.

“The first half, again, we created a lot of opportunities. We probably just let ourselves down, individual errors across the board – myself included – and it cost us.

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“We let in 12 points there, pretty easy tries for them on turnover attack and it’s just not good enough. Tough way to finish.”

Poor discipline and uncharacteristic mistakes has been the Crusaders’ Achilles heel all season and it cost them in this match too. The New Zealanders leaked two tries in as many minutes early on with outside back Andy Muirhead and Tom Wright scoring.

Match Summary

0
Penalty Goals
1
5
Tries
3
2
Conversions
3
0
Drop Goals
0
85
Carries
106
7
Line Breaks
9
6
Turnovers Lost
16
2
Turnovers Won
3

It almost looked as if the Brumbies had the potential to run away with it, or at least they threatened to, but the Crusaders stayed in the fight on the back of their dominance up front at the set-piece.

Fletcher Newell was especially impressive as the visitors won a series of scrum penalties. The Crusaders refused to go away and ended up scoring 10 unanswered points late to almost send it to extra time.

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But the Crusaders’ season of hardship and misery continued in Canberra. Strange knocked the ball dead, and while there was still time for a restart at GIO Stadium, Noah Lolesio confidently punted the ball into the crowd to secure the win.

“I’m proud of the boys. We knew we had to turn up physically and put these big men on the deck and I felt like we did that for most of the time,” Taylor explained.

“It was just probably when we had the ball, again, created a lot of opportunities, just let some slip.

“The Brumbies are a class team. They put you under pressure and that’s (what they did).

“The fans are always there,” he added. “That’s the great thing about the Crusaders fans.

“We feel their support, we’re really trying out there but just can’t quite string it together but there’s a lot of effort going in.”

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