The Brumbies have lost a second heartbreaker in the space of a week, this time falling 31-29 to the Crusaders at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.
Coming off the back of a gutting Super Rugby AU Grand Final loss, a Rob Valetini try after the bell gave Noah Lolesio the chance to grab the Brumbies a draw against the Crusaders. His kick narrowly missed the mark with the visitors forced to settle for a losing bonus-point in the opening round of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman series.
The home side came out of the gates with Ethan Blackadder scoring the opening try in just the 4th minute.
The Brumbies hung tough, and worked their way back into the contest with Scott Sio diving over to give his side a 7-5 lead after 27 minutes.
It didn’t take long for the Crusaders to take the lead back as a touch of class from Richie Mo’unga seeing the flyhalf glide over.
David Havili’s intercept try with five to play in the opening period edged the Crusaders ahead, as they went into the sheds 19-7 up.
The Brumbies were far from beaten however and started the second half with ten minutes of gutsy, dominant defence.
From there, the visitors launched, and when they got close enough, milestone centre Irae Simone was on hand to sneak over.
Lolesio added a penalty goal to draw them closer which seemed to snap the clinical Crusaders into action.
Converted tries to Brendan O’Connor and Cullen Grace looked to have put the Brumbies to bed late, but at 31-17, some Tom Banks brilliance brought the Brumbies back into the contest.
Banks found the ball inside his own half and broke through the line before shrugging off defenders to score the try of the night and bring the Brumbies back within 7.
Successive penalties gave the Brumbies field position and a hail-mary pass from Simone found Tom Wright out wide who flicked it back inside to Valetini who bullied his way over, sending Brumbies fans wild from across the ditch.
Though Lolesio couldn’t convert from the touchline, the Brumbies had earned a bonus-point, and the plaudits of watchers from both sides of the Tasman.
A thrilling contest, the Brumbies now look to back it up against the Chiefs next Saturday, 22 May at FMG Stadium, Waikato.
Plus500 Brumbies 29 (T: Sio, Simone, Banks, Valetini; C Lolesio 3: ; P: Lolesio)
Crusaders 31 (T: Blackadder, Mo’unga, Havili, O’Connor, Grace; C: Mo’unga 3)