The University of Canberra Brumbies have finished the 2013 Super Rugby season as runners up after going down to a fast finishing Chiefs team 27-22 on Saturday night in Hamilton.
Leading 22-12 with 18 minutes to play it looked like the Brumbies might snatch a win away from home but the Chiefs fed from the momentum of their boisterous home crowd to run away with the match and the title.
Head Coach Jake White lamented his side’s tough final quarter as they fought to stay in the contest with the table topping Chiefs.
“With 20 to go I thought the pressure was coming then that try didn’t eventuate and they came at us. They showed us why they’re a championship team and full credit to them for taking that title,” White said.
“I felt for George, he’s phenomenal. We were talking about how outstanding he was at Loftus last week and then he’s been able to back it up again tonight. We would have liked to have sent him out with a trophy but I guess that’s not the way it’s going to be.
“We had a full crack until the 80th minute and I’m proud of that effort, I’m proud of the way that we presented ourselves and I’m pleased with the way this team continues to develop.”
The University of Canberra Brumbies shot out to a 9-0 lead thanks to penalties to Christian Lealiifano. But that lead was quickly reeled in by Aaron Cruden who slotted three of his own.
Lealiifano pushed the Brumbies to a 16-9 point lead at half time with a classy breakaway try, and when he added six more points in the second stanza it looked like the visitors might sneak a win.
Sam Carter was ruled held up with half an hour to play, waking the Chiefs to action and from there the Brumbies battled to contain them.
A pressure try to Liam Messam and run away effort to Robbie Robinson stole the momentum, the game and the title for Chiefs.
Chiefs 27 (Liam Messam, Robbie Robinson tries Aaron Cruden con 5 pens) bt University of Canberra Brumbies 22 (Christian Leali’ifano try con 5 pens) at Waikato Stadium. Referee: Craig Joubert