Super Rugby - Efficient Crusaders stifle high-flying Brumbies

The inconsistent Canterbury Crusaders were back to their efficient best on Sunday as they recorded a 30-23 win over the Super Rugby-leading ACT Brumbies in Canberra.

Super Rugby - Efficient Crusaders stifle high-flying Brumbies

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Canterbury Crusaders player Andy Ellis (AFP)

Scrum-half Andy Ellis, winger Zac Guilford and replacement Israel Dagg grabbed the tries, while Dan Carter was imperious as ever with his kicking as the Crusaders forced numerous turnovers with some tough tackling.

After disappointing losses to the Hurricanes and the Western Force, the Crusaders sixth win in 10 matches this season proving a watershed moment for captain George Whitelock.

"We thought this game would be season defining and we got there and have done the job so now after 10 rounds we get the bye and can freshen up," the flanker said .

"We knew we had to front up tonight and get physical and I'm pretty pleased with the way the boys did it.

"We talked about it all week that that was going to be the winning of the game and the guys got off the line and made some big hits and made the tackles count tonight so that was pretty pleasing."

The Crusaders dominated possession and territory early on but it was the Brumbies who produced the opening points in the seventh minute when fly-half Matt Toomua intercepted a pass from Carter just outside his 22 and sprinted clear for a try.

Christian Lealiifano converted and added a penalty before the Crusaders were able to turn their strong start into points, Carter kicking a goal before scrum-half Ellis sprinted off the back of a five-metre scrum to touchdown for a 21st minute try.

Carter converted from near the touchline to tie the scores at 10-10 with some careless knock-ons and lousy lineouts ensuring neither side added to their total before half-time.

The Brumbies started the second half brightly, going through the phases as they probed for another score but good pilfering work at the breakdown helped the Crusaders force a turnover and break for a try of their own.

Guilford found space down the left to scuttle into the corner after more hard yards were gained by the visitors' impressive front five.

Carter's kicking stretched the lead to 23-10 with the conversion and two penalties as Lealiifano was wayward with a penalty of his own.

However, Lealiifano was successful with a 67th minute kick to cut the deficit to 10 and the Brumbies were back in Crusaders territory five minutes but another costly turnover resulted in a third try for the visitors.

Replacement full-back Dagg opted against kicking away the ball near his own tryline and instead led a swift counter-attack past tired Brumbies forwards which he finished off after good work by centre Robbie Fruean.

Brumbies number eight Ben Mowen eventually found a rare hole in the Crusaders backline to break through for a second try in the 76th minute with a quick conversion from Toomua and a late penalty from Lealiifano ensuring a losing bonus point.

"Our execution was off early and a team like the Crusaders, you give them half chances and they are tries," skipper Mowen said.

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