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Super Rugby match report: Brumbies hold off resilient Blues to go second
The Brumbies resisted a defiant second-half comeback from the Blues to earn a 20-13 victory in Auckland on Saturday.
With the rain lashing down at Eden Park both sides found their handling skills under scrutiny with the Brumbies adapting to conditions well to take the lead courtesy of a second-minute penalty from Christian Lealiifano.
As the Blues continued to be pinned back in their own territory the Brumbies doubled the advantage with Lealiifano slotting another three-pointer through the posts.
The hosts attempted to break out but Frank Saili's grounded pass allowed the Brumbies to kick through before scrum-half Nic White raced onto the ball and slid across slippery try line to increase the visitors lead.
Blues flanker Luke Braid went on the attack from the line-out and came close only to be held up on the line before Lealiifano increased the deficit once more as the Brumbies entered the interval 14-0 up.
After a lambasting half-time talk from coach Sir John Kirwan the Blues returned from the interval rejuvenated as Chris Noakes got the hosts on the scoreboard with an early penalty.
The Blues found their stride as second period progressed with Piri Weepu moving through the Brumbies defence before finding Rene Ranger who shrugged off two defenders to power over the line and put the hosts in touching distance. The conversion from Noakes put the Blues within four at 14-10.
As the rain started to clear and conditions improved considerably the Brumbies responded and extended their advantage with Lealiifano on target once again.
Replacement kicker Baden Kerr slotted a three-pointer home for the Blues but there was little time for the hosts to complete their comeback before Lealiifano sealed a 20-13 victory for the Brumbies with a penalty on the siren.
The win sees Brumbies elevated to second in the Super Rugby standings, just two adrift of leaders Chiefs while the Blues remain in play-off contention despite the defeat.