Super Rugby Pacific: Crusaders match ACT Brumbies on competition table with clinical win at Canberra

The Crusaders have returned to their clinical best, drawing level with ACT Brumbies for second spot on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder with a 37-26 victory at Canberra's GIO Stadium.

Rekindling a rivalry that defined earlier years in the competition, both sides scored four tries, with the boot of first-five Richie Mo'unga proving the difference on the scoreboard.

Brumbies lost the services of Wallabies first-five Noah Lolesio and powerful loose forward Rob Valetini before kickoff, but struck first, with a try awarded to second-five Irae Simone, despite seemingly losing control of the ball as he forced it. 

Richie Mo'unga congratulates Will Jordan on a try against Brumbies
Richie Mo'unga congratulates Will Jordan on a try against Brumbies. Photo credit: Photosport

Moments later, Crusaders fullback Will Jordan sliced through the ACT defence and from the ensuing attack, first-five Rod Iona's clearance was charged down and hooker Codie Taylor barrelled over next to the posts. 

Taylor engineered the second try, when his speculative kick into the Brumbies 22 bounced fortuitously for winger Sevu Reece to score. Mo'unga converted both and kicked three penalties, passing 1000 Super Rugby points along the way, to give the Crusaders a 23-5 lead at halftime.

Soon after the restart, Simone struck again, bringing his side back into the contest, after a period of sustained pressure.

Bryn Hall restored the lead, when Mo'unga was held up short of the tryline and his halfback snuck over from the ruck, but the Brumbies would not go away, with replacement hooker Folau Fainga'a plunging over for a try.

Almost inevitably, Jordan grabbed a try, when Havili offloaded near the line, but then gave one back, when his long attacking pass to Leicester Fainga'anuku was stolen by Tom Wright, who dashed 70 metres to score.  

Over the closing moments, the Brumbies desperately chased victory - or at least a losing bonus point - to retain their competition standing, with Tom Banks and Simone sparking threatening attacks, but ultimately falling short.

Crusaders and Brumbies now share 43 points on the table - the Cantabrians have a better points differential, but the Aussies have an extra win to their credit. That battle will continue into the final two weeks, with the Crusaders facing Fijian Drua next Friday and Brumbies hosting the table-topping Blues.

Crusaders 37 (Taylor, Hall, Jordan, Reece tries, Mo'unga 4 conversions & 3 penalties) ACT Brumbies 26 (Simone 2, Wright & Fainga'a tries, White & Longeran 2 conversions)

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