Brumbies in hunt for home semi-final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Brumbies in hunt for home semi-final

By Justin Chadwick 09/05/2010 01:49:15 PM Comments (0)

George Smith and Stirling Mortlock may get another chance to farewell the Canberra faithful after the Brumbies' 31-3 bonus-point victory over the Highlanders kept them in the hunt for a Super 14 home semi-final.

The fourth-placed Brumbies (37 points) will secure a semi-final spot if they defeat the sixth-placed Crusaders (36 points) in Christchurch on Friday night.

And the Brumbies can finish second, and snare a home semi, if the Bulls defeat the Stormers (39 points) and the Hurricanes (37 points) topple the Waratahs (38 points) without earning a bonus point.

The Brumbies haven't beaten the Crusaders in Christchurch since 2000 but coach Andy Friend said recent wins over the Reds and Highlanders had the team in prime shape to get the job done.

"It's very important at the right end of the season you are playing good rugby," Friend said.

"It's going to be tough because we go over there now off a six-day turnaround plus the travel, but it's a tough competition.

"Destiny's in our own hands now.

"If we're good enough we'll be in that top four."

The Brumbies notched three tries in the opening 48 minutes against the Highlanders but had to wait until two minutes before time to score the crucial bonus-point fourth try.

Five-eighth Matt Toomua was the man to cross, ensuring Smith and Mortlock received a perfect Canberra farewell.

Mortlock's back injury kept him out of the match and the 32-year-old admitted he was almost certain to miss the Crusaders clash.

But Smith, who lasted 74 minutes against the Highlanders in his first game back from a shoulder injury, said he had no fitness worries.

"I was feeling really good, I had no issues with the shoulder," Smith said.

"In the last few minutes I started to cramp, which is to be expected.

"But I'll definitely be ready to go against the Crusaders."

The Crusaders haven't missed the finals since 2001.

But three losses on the trot have left them needing a win over the Brumbies to sneak into the top four.

Friend said the Crusaders remained one of the best teams in the competition after watching them push the ladder-leading Bulls all the way on Friday before losing 40-35 in Pretoria.

"You never write that team off and as you saw against the Bulls, all but the last couple of minutes they had them beaten," he said.

"There's a lot of pride and fight in that side.

"They're still in the hunt for the top four as well.

"They need to be fully respected but we are going over there to do a job."

Friend said Julian Huxley was in line to return from a back injury against the Crusaders.

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