Rugby: Brumbies battered and blues-ed

Rugby: Brumbies battered and blues-ed
Auckland Blues team captain Piri Weepu (2ndR) celebrates with teammates after defeating the Brumbies during the World Club 10s final in Singapore on June 22, 2014.

Auckland Blues captain Piri Weepu was so exhausted after his team won the Rugby World Club 10s tournament, he stopped walking in the players' tunnel and leaned against the wall.

With eyes closed, the All Blacks scrum-half whispered to the media to give him a few minutes' respite - and requested a milk beverage from event organisers.

With 72 caps for New Zealand and 10 seasons of Super Rugby for the Wellington Hurricanes and The Blues, Weepu, 30, has seen it all.

But the past two days, at the new National Stadium, he finally got a taste of 10s rugby.

His Blues team won a dramatic final at the inaugural eight-team event, beating Australia's Brumbies 10-5 in extra time.

EXHAUSTED

After the game, he admitted he was as exhausted as he's ever been after a full 15s game.

"I think you can tell from my expression that (this victory) wasn't easy," he said. "10s rugby isn't as fast as the 7s game, but it's so intense; it's tough on (your) fitness and the physical aspect.

"All the teams came in here not knowing what to expect from the 10s game, and we've all had to adapt to it quick.

"Maybe that's why we were successful here; we picked it up quickest."

Few among the 10,880 fans at the stadium would have expected any of the other six teams - who included the Cardiff Blues and the Asia Pacific Dragons - to contest the final.

The Blues and Brumbies, both Super Rugby franchises, won all five of their matches in the lead-up to the final game.

The Brumbies, led by Wallabies fullback Robbie Coleman, opened the scoring through a Conrad Hoffmann try in the sixth minute.

Blues forward Tom McCartney broke through a resilient Brumbies backline to equalise in the second half of the fast-paced 20-minute game.

Fatigue seemed to hit the Brumbies during the extra 10-minute period, and Blues' inside-centre Jackson Willison clinched the winner with a "golden point" try in the sixth minute of added time.

"There couldn't have been a better script to the tournament, with the two Super Rugby teams contesting the final," said Coleman, who skippered the Brumbies to the London Club Sevens last year.

"We had them on the back foot for most of the game, but fatigue kicked in, and the Blues capitalised on our mistakes.

We're really proud to have been part of this tournament, which is the first at this wonderful arena."

The Asia Pacific Dragons, who featured Singapore forward Reiner Leong in their ranks, finished third after defeating Cardiff 26-17.


This article was first published on JUNE 23, 2014.
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