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<hash>Blues</hash> play spoiler over the Brumbies

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Saturday, July 14, 2012    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

The result means the Reds can now finish ahead of the Brumbies at the top of Aussie conference if they beat the Waratahs on Saturday evening with a bonus point.

If the Reds are successful then the Brumbies must rely on other results going their way to see whether they have qualified for their first Super Rugby finals spot since 2004, via a wildcard entry.

Bland attack and a whopping 34 missed tackles meant the Brumbies were always behind the eight ball against a care-free Blues side determined to finish their horror season on a high.

The Blues laid the platform for their shock win in the first half, posting three tries to the Brumbies' one to take a handy 21-13 lead into the break.

The Brumbies should have shown a lot more desperation in the second half, but it failed to materialise, leaving skipper Stephen Moore on the wrong end of the scoreboard in his 100th Super Rugby appearance.

There was a chance for early points for the Blues when the Brumbies were caught off their feet in the breakdown, but halfback Piri Weepu was astray with the relatively simple penalty goal attempt.

Weepu's early miss didn't affect his general play though, with his astute direction and passing allowing the Blues to keep the possessionless Brumbies on the retreat in the opening 15 minutes.

The World Cup-winning No. 9 helped steer the Blues towards the line for their opening try which came in the form of a strong Liaki Moli barge-over in the 12th minute.

Weepu landed the simple conversion and was on hand to convert the Blues' second try from wide-out four minutes later after flanker Daniel Braid completed a well-worked left-edge raid.

Sharp-shooter Zack Holmes put the Brumbies on the board in the 20th minute with a difficult three-pointer into the breeze, reducing the deficit to 11 points.

The pro-Brumbies crowd was given its first real chance to get excited when much-improved winger Henry Speight motored onto a super Nic White pass then combined some breathtaking footwork and speed on his way to his eighth try of the Super Rugby season.

Holmes landed the conversion and the hosts were seemingly back in business at 14-10 down after 24 minutes.

A stray hand in the ruck from Blues prop Tony Woodcock handed Holmes an easy three-pointer to put the Brumbies just one point in arrears.

But the home team's normally gritty defence was nowhere to be seen four minutes before the break when a brilliant Blues attacking raid resulted in an ultra-soft try by centre Hadleigh Parkes, who strolled past a woeful Holmes' grab a couple of phases later.

Weepu was once again on target from a difficult angle, confirming the Auckland-based side's 21-13 half-time lead.

A ruck infringement from Blues centre Ma'a Nonu five minutes after the break provided long-range specialist Jesse Mogg with the chance to slot his first penalty goal of the match and he finally came to the party after three previous unsuccessful attempts.

But Weepu stepped up to the mark to landed a further two penalty goals in quick succession to give the Blues a 27-16 lead after 51 minutes.

Holmes missed a crucial penalty goal attempt in the 59th minute as the heavens opened up, making the Brumbies' task of comeback all the more difficult.

The Brumbies chances of salvaging an all-important point from this match were all-but extinguished in the 78th minute when Blues five-eighth Michael Hobbs landed a penalty goal – the culmination of a sustained period of possession in good field position from the victorious visitors.

Scorers: Brumbies 16 (Henry Speight try; Zack Holmes con, 2 pen; Jesse Mog pen)Blues 30 (Liaki Moli, Daniel Braid, Hadleigh Parkes tries; Piri Weepu 3 con, 2 pen; Michael Hobbs pen)
HT: 13-21