Crusaders finish on a high

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13 Jun 2015
Crusaders finish on a high

Dan Carter and Richie McCaw were given the perfect send-off by the Crusaders with a 37-24 win over the Brumbies in Canberra.

Nemani Nadolo was spectaular again for the Crusaders as he added two first-half tries, raising the question of what might have been if the Crusaders had clicked earlier in the season to be in contention for the Super Rugby Finals Series.

The seven-time champions needed no incentive to triumph in this one however, with Carter and McCaw playing their final matches for the Crusaders after glittering careers in red.

Three times the Brumbies maul got on a rumble inside the Crusaders 22 and they scored from each one, with and without their main operator David Pocock.

Win or lose the Brumbies were going to be in next week's wildcard play-off matches in the first week of knockout matches, but the possibility of topping the Australian Conference provided the Waratahs lost to the Reds was still on the table.

Instead they appear likely to be getting on a plane to South Africa for next weekend.

We've been treated to a few special moments from Nadolo in 2015 but he surpassed them all with his second try, a perfectly weighted grubber kick down the touchline bouncing up for the 130kg Fijian bulldozer as he kept his frame in the field for the finish. A phenomenal score from a player who could take this year's World Cup by storm.

Nadolo's moments of inspiration took him to nine tries for the year, with Matt Todd joining him on the scoresheet and securing a record of his own in becoming the first forward to score a try in five consecutive matches.

The Brumbies main weapon has been far from secret or subtle in recent weeks but no one has been able to stop it, with David Pocock striking again from the back of the rolling maul for his fourth try in two games.

Lealiifano converted to give the Brumbies an early 7-0 lead but the Crusaders response was immediate, with Nadolo on the end of an overlap out on the wing and remarkably bumping off the challenges of two tacklers to squeeze over in the corner.

Carter couldn't convert but added a penalty not long after when the Brumbies were penalised at the breakdown to put the visitors into a one-point lead.

The two kickers traded penalties before Todd, who had been denied minutes earlier by the TMO for dropping the ball over the line, made sure of his individual record when he burrowed over from close range.

One more score was still to come, Nadolo's special second try as he brushed off the hapless Robbie Coleman for the second time in the half before grounding his kick ahead.

Carter failed to convert for the third time but the Crusaders were in control at 21-10 going in for the interval.

Matters worsened for the hosts when Jesse Mogg was sin-binned for slapping the ball down, with Carter adding three points, pushing the Brumbies to find a response.

Pocock's departure and subsequent failure of a concussion test left them without their main strike weapon from the maul but after Sam Whitelock was also yellow carded, Pocock's replacement Jarrad Butler filled his role perfectly as the Brumbies added their second try from the set-piece to trail by seven at 24-17.

Controlling the territory well the Crusaders added to their tally with a fourth penalty from Carter but even with the introduction of Matt Toomua from the bench the Brumbies returned to their favourite weapon in search of another score.

The maul did the job again as the Crusaders had no answers with Lealiifano's conversion of the penalty try tightening things up at 27-24.

Having suffered from the Brumbies maul all night the Crusaders had the last laugh by earning a penalty try and bonus point try with a drive of their own - McCaw at the back of it but with referee Jaco Peyper running under the posts and Carter's conversion opening up a ten-point lead.

From there the Crusaders couldn't be caught, Carter adding another three as he and McCaw bowing out on a well-earned win while the Brumbies will get ready to head to Cape Town, should the Waratahs win later.