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One point needed, but Brumbies stumble

STUNNED silence ended the Super Rugby regular season at Canberra Stadium yesterday afternoon as the Brumbies crashed to an unexpected loss that killed off their finals hopes.

In one of the biggest shocks of the season, the lowly ranked Auckland Blues dominated the hapless Brumbies.

A win or a bonus-point loss would have secured the Brumbies a finals berth for the first time since 2004. Instead, the loss and subsequent victory by the Reds over the Waratahs last night ended a season that had promised more.

It was not the way the revival of the Brumbies was supposed to finish after a stunning turnaround under new coach Jake White. But the 34 missed tackles and the lack of possession crippled them. Brumbies hooker Stephen Moore - who was playing his 100th game - said the side failed to take their chances.

''They played well, we started poorly and gave a lot of ground and missed tackles away,'' Moore said. ''We didn't take our opportunities.''

The Blues had won just three games going into the match. But in a twist, it looked as if the Blues - not the Brumbies - were playing for a finals spot as they carved up the ACT defence and ran wild across the field.

Meanwhile, Western Force stalwart Nathan Sharpe's Super Rugby farewell turned into a first-half nightmare as the Crusaders cruised to a 38-24 triumph in Christchurch last night.

Chris Dutton

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