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Aussie veterans end home careers

Aussie veterans end home careers

The ACT Brumbies kept their slim semifinal hopes alive and prevented defending champion Canterbury from booking a home playoff match with a 15-6 win over the Crusaders in Super 14 rugby yesterday.
Wallabies flyhalf Stephen Larkham, playing his last home match for the Brumbies, kicked a dropped goal with three minutes left to clinch the win for the Brumbies, their fourth straight.
Daniel Carter, who spent the first half of the Super 14 season rested as part of an All Black conditioning program ahead of the World Cup, put the Crusaders ahead 3-0 in the seventh minute. That raised his kicking performance to better than 80 percent since returning from his break, and he improved on that mark with a second-half penalty.
The Brumbies led 9-3 at halftime.
The match was the final at home for three veterans who won't return to the Brumbies next season - Wallabies captain George Gregan, Larkham and Jeremy Paul. A grandstand was named for the halfback-flyhalf pairing of Gregan and Larkham.
With fireworks marking the special occasion, the two stars received an enthusiastic applause when the grandstand was unveiled just before kickoff.
"Those sort of things normally happen to people who have passed away. I guess we have passed away in a professional rugby (sense)," said Gregan. "We're putting RIP at the end of this year. But it's something that's very humbling and you don't expect that to happen."
Gregan and Larkham are the only two players remaining from the Brumbies' foundation team of 1996.
"Stevie and I have been here since the day dot basically," Gregan said. "We've played all our youth rugby here, grown up here and gone from playing New South Wales and Queensland once or twice a year here to being in the international provincial competition."
Gregan will end his career with a six-month stint at French second division club Toulon following this year's World Cup in France.
"When you get to 34, you realize you're not going to be playing rugby all your life," Gregan said.
Larkham, 32, has not announced whether he will also travel overseas, but he's expected to do so.
Hooker Paul, a veteran of 111 Super matches for the Brumbies, also played his last game at Canberra Stadium. The 30-year-old front-rower plans to retire.
"It's exciting to be finishing my career with two Canberra legends ... these two can take the limelight. I'm happy with that," said Paul.
Blues sacked
In action late Friday, the Auckland Blues's hopes of securing a home Super 14 semifinal were dealt a serious blow by Friday's 40-19 defeat at the hands of the Bulls.
The long-time leaders retained second place on points difference from the Bulls but could be overtaken if the Sharks beat the Lions in a later game yesterday.
Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez scored a try and set up another to lead the way. Du Preez pounced on a loose ball after center Sam Tuitupou was unable to control a lineout and sprinted 40 meters for his converted try in the 67th minute that gave the Bulls a 30-12 lead and complete control.


Updated : 2021-06-13 16:20 GMT+08:00