The ACT Brumbies slumped to a 40-15 loss against a rampant Auckland Blues outfit yesterday, leaving their Super Rugby playoff chances hanging by a thread.
The Brumbies never recovered after the Blues unleashed a four-try blitz in the first 20 minutes to maintain Eden Park’s reputation as a graveyard for Australia-based teams.
The home side scored six tries to two, including doubles for veteran All Black Jerome Kaino and rugby league convert Matt Duffie. The Brumbies entered the match level with the NSW Waratahs on 39 points at the top of the Australian conference and desperate to claw ahead of their rivals.
They now need the Waratahs to stumble in one of their final two regular-season matches to have any hope of winning the conference and gaining an automatic home finals berth.
They looked toothless in attack, relying heavily on line-out drives, while captain Stephen Moore said he was disappointed with the way they started a crucial match.
“We gave them too many points early, we fell off too many tackles, allowed them to offload ... just not good enough,” he said.
The Blues, already out of finals contention, played like a side with nothing to lose, throwing the ball around with abandon.
Kaino was a massive presence, while captain Jamie Parsons said the club’s young talent were emerging as the three-time champions rebuild following some lean years.
“We set a goal at the start of the season to restore a bit of pride in the Blues club,” Parsons said. “We haven’t done it completely yet, but it’s definitely a step closer.”
In Brisbane, the Queensland Reds sustained a similar thumping at the hands of the Waikato Chiefs in the later game in Australia.
The Chiefs consolidated their place atop the Australasian group in their penultimate game of the regular season with a 50-5 thrashing of the struggling Reds and another win next week will confirm their place at the top.
Seta Tamanivalu and Damian McKenzie scored two tries apiece for the visitors in the eight-try romp.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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