Clinical Crusaders secure valuable win
George Smith's record appearance for the Brumbies ended in defeat as the Crusaders secured an impressive 30-23 victory in Canberra on Sunday afternoon.
But instead it was the visitors who showed the maturity to overcome a strong Brumbies challenge and the discipline not to leak penalties at crucial times.
Early signs indicated the visitors would face a battle as the Brumbies raced to a 10-0 lead within the opening 10 minutes.
A loose Dan Carter pass was scooped up by opposite first five-eighths Matt Toomua to give the hosts the brightest start.
However, it was one of the only errors Carter made in the first half. The talismanic first five-eighths found space on a number of occasions to ensure the Brumbies had no option but to kick back for territorial gain.
Fresh from a return to the starting halfback role, Andy Ellis rescued the visitors with a scintillating try to equalise at 10-10, which is how it remained until half-time.
The Crusaders continued their clinical ways when Zac Guildford finished a superb backline move in the corner to give the visitors the lead for the first time within 10 minutes of the second half.
From there the difference between the two sides emerged. As the Brumbies played catch-up rugby, the Crusaders did what was needed to thwart any oncoming attacks and to capitalise on further opportunities.
Israel Dagg made an instant impact when he was brought on with a quarter of the match to play. The fullback finished a fantastic move started by Robbie Fruean to extend their lead to 30-13.
Ben Mowen scored with under five minutes to play to give the hosts a chance of securing a bonus point, and Christian Leali'ifano sealed it with a penalty on the stroke of full-time.
The win solidified the Crusaders' third place in the New Zealand conference, while the point gave the Brumbies a one-point lead atop the competition ladder.
Brumbies 23 (Ben Mowen, Matt Toomua try; Christian Leali'ifano 2 con, 3 pen) Crusaders 30 (Israel Dagg, Zac Guildford, Andy Ellis tries; Dan Carter 3 con, 3 pen) HT: 10-10