Sat, May 10, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Crusaders dent Brumbies' playoff bid

AP , CANBERRA

The semifinal-bound Canterbury Crusaders beat the ACT Brumbies 28-21 yesterday, leaving the fourth playoff spot in rugby union's Super 12 competition open for the Brumbies and three other teams.

The Brumbies picked up a bonus point to give them 31 points, three ahead of fifth-place Otago, which plays Queensland today.

New South Wales and South Africa's Bulls can also finish in a semifinal placing, although the Bulls are a longshot due to a poorer plus-minus rating in points scored.

Canterbury's Leon MacDonald was sent off in the first minute for a high tackle on the ACT's Joel Wilson.

Six minutes later Brumbies center Matt Giteau took the ball 10m from the line and scooted through the Crusaders' 14-man defense to touch down behind the line, with Joe Roff adding a conversion.

But with MacDonald back on the field, the Brumbies started to fall off tackles while their own attack failed to make an impact on the Crusaders solid defense.

Halfback Ben Hurst, who started ahead of All Black Justin Marshall, got the Crusaders' first try as his forwards drove the ball from a lineout, with Hurst diving over in the corner.

Crusaders center Dan Carter then slotted a long-range field goal before winger Marika Vunibaka added another try with six minutes remaining in the half.

Roff has the opportunity to close the gap to 10 points, but missed a penalty kick after the halftime siren.

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