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Blues inflict Super Rugby loss on Brumbies

NZN 30/04/2017 Matt Coughlan

The Brumbies have slumped to a third successive Super Rugby loss, losing 18-12 to the Blues as they made it 15 wins in a row for New Zealand teams against Australian opposition.

Despite being last in the New Zealand group, the Blues were too good for the conference-topping Brumbies in a stark illustration of the gulf between Kiwi outfits and their trans-Tasman rivals.

In near-perfect conditions at GIO Stadium, the Auckland-based side inflicted the Brumbies' ninth consecutive loss to New Zealand opponents while keeping them tryless in a regular season match for the first time since 2012.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham praised his side's effort but was left lamenting costly mistakes.

"I can comfortably say that it wasn't them that beat us, it was us that beat ourselves," Larkham said.

"(Against) New Zealand sides, you've got to get your set piece right, you've got to get your execution right.

"It's always going to be tight and you're going to rely on those little moments in the game when you come up against New Zealand sides and we just didn't have it tonight."

The Blues dominated possession from the outset on Sunday but were unable to breach the Brumbies dogged defence for the opening half hour in front of 12,072 supporters.

Winger Matt Duffie broke the deadlock, with a George Moala offload helping him to cross after 31 minutes.

Brumbies fullback Tom Banks also showed glimpses in attack, but was unable to hurt the Blues on the scoreboard.

Brumbies captain Sam Carter's decision to back their rolling maul to score a try rather than give Wharenui Hawera a penalty goal attempt on half-time didn't pay dividends and the blues went to the break leading 8-3.

Hawera got a chance three minutes into the second half and kicked truly to shave the deficit to two.

He put them in front with his third penalty after 51 minutes, as the Brumbies refused to fold.

But it didn't take the men from Auckland long to regain the lead and a well-worked lineout allowed Akira Ioane to drive over for a try and make it 13-8.

Bryn Gatland missed the conversion and the Brumbies began to apply pressure on the Blues defence.

That culminated in Hawera's fourth goal bringing them within one point with 20 minutes remaining.

But as momentum shifted back to the Blues, they were able to capitalise on their opportunities with a Melani Nanai try coming from a scrum, setting up a match-winning lead and helping his side to pick up a crucial bonus-point victory.

"There's a lot of battered guys in our change room at the moment but there's always got to be a winner and obviously our guys are smiling at the moment," Blues coach Tana Umaga said.

"We're happy with where we're at but obviously we've got a bit to work on."

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