May 16, 2021
Backrower Rob Valetini scored a try and assisted in another in the Brumbies 29-31 loss to Super Rugby Aotearoa champs Crusaders in round one of the Trans-Tasman match yesterday.
Tom Banks’ marvelous individual try late on and a Valetini effort after the bell gave Noah Lolesio the chance to nab the Brumbies a draw, and though his kick narrowly missed the mark, the visitors took a losing bonus point from the home of the Super Rugby Aotearoa Champions.
The Brumbies hung tough, and worked their way back into the contest through Lolesio got the Brumbies moving forward and a deft offload Froyan Lonergan put Scott Sio in enough space to drive over the line.
The Crusaders were back in front, a touch of pure class from Richie Mo’unga seeing the flyhalf glide over.
David Havili’s intercept try with five to play in the opening period looked to have edged the Crusaders too far ahead, as they went into the sheds 19-7 up.
The Brumbies got close enough, milestone center Irae Simone was on hand to sneak over from inches out and Lolesio added a penalty goal to the tally, to draw them closer.
Converted tries to Brendan O’Connor and Cullen Grace looked to have put the Brumbies to bed late, but at 31-17 they still refused to die.
Banks found the ball, 55m from home and somehow he wriggled through and raced away for the pick of the tries and Lolesio’s brilliant conversion, gave the Brumbies a sniff.
Successive penalties gave the Brumbies hope and inside the Crusaders 22m, they piled body after body at the line, debutant Tom Hooper taking more than three carries in quick succession.
A hail-mary pass from Simone found Tom Wright out wide, and the winger had the awareness to flick inside to Valetini who bullied his way over for a try but Lolesio couldn’t convert.
The Brumbies will play their next match against the Chiefs on Saturday.
By Romeka Romena