Danny Cipriani's points haul for Rebels not enough to halt Brumbies charge

The returning Danny Cipriani kicked seven points but was unable to prevent the Melbourne Rebels slumping to a 32-17 defeat at the hands of the ACT Brumbies yesterday.

Making his first appearance for a month after being ostracised following two breaches of discipline, Cipriani was impressive but the English fly-half's best efforts were not enough at Canberra Stadium as a host of departing Brumbies players signed off in style.

The Brumbies entered the match trying to record their first back-to-back victories in a disappointing 2011 season. The hosts began with purpose, enterprise and an attacking flair that had often been absent. Some good early field position and sharp passing led to Christian Lealiifano scoring after five minutes although Matt Giteau missed the conversion. The Brumbies were on the back foot five minutes later after a Julian Huxley field goal rebounded off the posts and the resulting scramble almost saw Giteau turn the ball over in his own in goal. In the end, the Brumbies were lucky to escape with only conceding a penalty from Cipriani. But that was the last chance for the Rebels in the half as Canberra dominated the final 25 minutes.

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A Giteau penalty in the 19th minute put the Brumbies up 8-3 before another sharp attacking raid to the right wing saw Tyrone Smith send off Cooper Vuna for a Brumbies try in the 24th minute. Six minutes later, the Brumbies received a penalty ten metres outside the Rebels try line and Giteau, in his last appearance at Canberra Stadium, took a quick tap and caught the Rebels napping to score a sneaky try which he converted for an 18-3 lead at the break.

The Brumbies picked up where they left off after the break, taking just two minutes to go back into attack when Steven Moore's line break led to Pat McCabe crossing the line and giving Giteau an easy conversion. The Brumbies sought to press their advantage, opting not to take several easy penalty kick opportunitie. Despite a mountain of possession, however, they couldn't break the Rebels' defence line.

Mark Gerrard showed some creativity to put the Rebels close to the line but it was another ex-Brumbie, Stirling Mortlock, whose powerful run finally broke through, resulting in a Jarrod Saffy try. Seven minutes later Saffy burst onto a clever Cipriani inside ball to put Afusipa Taumoepeau over. The resulting conversion saw the Rebels close the gap to eight points. But any hope the Rebels had of a late comeback were put to rest when Moore scored a pushover try three minutes later. Giteau added the extras to ensure the Brumbies finished their season at home with a 15-point win.

Meanwhile, The Wellington Hurricanes ended a turbulent week with a dissatisfying 18-18 draw with the Waikato Chiefs in Super 15, leaving Waikato in last place in the New Zealand conference.The Hurricanes were thrown into turmoil midweek when rookie coach Mark Hammett announced All Blacks Ma'a Nonu and Andrew Hore - veterans of more than 200 matches - would not be offered contracts next season. Both Hore and Nonu rose above their personal disappointments to play important roles in yesterday's match. Hore scored the Hurricanes' only try of the first half and Nonu created a brilliant second-half try.