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Breakers fall in Bruton's farewell
It ended with bows, blown
kisses and a well-deserved
After 179 games, 120 wins
and 2049 points, C J Bruton
last night closed the book on
his Breakers career with a 95-
83 loss to the Cairns Taipans at
An inconsequential game in
a 12-16 season was hardly how
Bruton would have dreamed of
bowing out in Breakers colours
--- that fairytale nish arrived a
year too soon with last season's
win in Perth to seal a third
It was a departure that broke
from the Breakers' recent
tradition for farewelling greats.
Both Paul Henare and Dillon
Boucher --- whose retired
numbers hanging in the rafters
will soon be joined by Bruton's
No 23 --- were sent into
retirement with titles.
But Bruton did not look like
he was about to complain in
front of a near-capacity crowd
of 8000 at Vector Arena,
with the ticket sales for a
meaningless game measuring
just how much Bruton has
meant to the public in his six
years in Auckland.
"What I prayed for in the
beginning was to play in
an arena like this and bring
a championship to New
Zealand," Bruton said moments
after the nal buzzer. "Now
I just pray that you fans keep
believing in this club."
While he has left the
door open to add to his 516
appearances in the Australian
NBL with another team, it
would be bizarre to see Bruton
back in New Zealand next
season in a di erent singlet.
After all, there is little for the
38-year-old left to prove. He
currently ranks 18th in history
in points and 11th in assists,
with his six championships
spread across three clubs ---
New Zealand (three), Sydney
(two) and Brisbane (one).
Last night's game almost felt
like an afterthought, a two-hour
tribute to one of the true greats
of Australasian basketball. A
horror third quarter from the
Breakers took some of the gloss
o that tribute, consigning
the defending champions to
seventh spot in the eight-team
Bruton had 11 points,
including a pair of three-
pointers in the fourth, but he
would still have left with a
e festivities began with the
player introductions, with both
teams standing in applause as
Bruton trotted last out of the
locker room with sons Rio and
Roc in tow. Reuben Te Rangi
led the Breakers' academy in
a haka for the adopted New
Zealander, before the home side
stripped o their tracksuits to
reveal a commemorative all-
Bruton, not surprisingly, got
the start and grabbed his rst
points midway through a rst
quarter in which the Breakers
established a six-point lead.
e champs were up by nine
at the major break, but Cairns
recovered and eventually pulled
ahead in the third to take a
six-point edge into the nal
While Bruton knocked down
two triples --- his last in a
Breakers uniform --- Cairns
continued to pull away and
handed the Breakers yet
"I know that we didn't nish
the season the way I wanted,
the way (the fans) wanted,
or the way the organisation
wanted," Bruton said. "But
I know basketball in New
Zealand is only going to get
better and better."
Breakers 83 (Wilkinson 16,
Webster 13, Vukona 13) lost
to Taipans 95 (Loughton 24,
Gliddon 23, McCamey 18).
Half-time: 55-46. --- APNZ
PICTURE: Getty Images
C J Bruton of the Breakers charges past Cameron Gliddon of
the Taipans at Vector Arena in Auckland last night.
Just like that, the pressure is back on the
After opening the Super Rugby campaign
with three losses, the team kept the knockers
at bay for a brief period with a 60-27
destruction of the Cheetahs last weekend
but the players were brought back to reality
as the Highlanders knocked them over 35-31
in Dunedin last night.
As has been a problem for most of the
season, the Hurricanes fell o plenty of
tackles, made basic errors and looked stunted
Coach Mark Hammett has been in the
ring line from the Hurricanes' faithful this
season and there is no reason to think the
blowtorch will not be applied to him and his
management team again in the coming week
as they look to get their season on track.
Considering the Crusaders are on the
agenda next, things will not get any easier for
the Hurricanes, who have problems across
the board but never seem to look completely
out of the games they play.
Halfback Chris Smylie was a late scratching
for the Hurricanes last night, which was a
tough blow for the visitors given the veteran
No 9 had looked sharp against the Cheetahs
last week, but his withdrawal presented a
chance for T J Perenara to redeem himself
after an indi erent start to the year.
e halfback did have a hand in a late
Hurricanes try with a deft o oad, although
his kicking and option-taking are still areas
Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa has
been a revelation this season after spending
2013 as a full-time training partner at the
e Tongan-born speedster has looked
dangerous on attack all year and delivered
a thunderous hit on his opposite number
Conrad Smith early in the second spell.
A forgettable rst half, dominated by
penalty goals, was quickly put to bed in the
second stanza when Highlanders second- ve
Phil Burleigh bagged a ve-pointer in the
50th minute after some phenomenal work
from Highlanders fullback Ben Smith.
Smith was one of the best on show during
the game and must be planting some
thoughts in to the mind of All Blacks coach
Steve Hansen ahead of the June tests.
Smith's vision and ability to nd his way
through gaps, while also holding the ball up
in the tackle are a ne mix of skills, while he
is also astute under the high ball.
When Hurricanes mid elder Hadleigh
Parkes threw a pass, which was intercepted by
rampaging wing Patrick Osborne mid-way
through the second half, the Highlanders
eased out to a 35-12 advantage.
Late tries to Ben Franks and Beauden
Barrett (two) saw the Hurricanes claw their
way back in to the contest but it was not
enough to see them pull o a comeback win
as they dropped their fourth contest of the
Despite missing a dolly of a penalty
goal in the early stages, Lima Sopoaga, a
Wellington-born, raised and educated ve-
eighth, had an absolute bumper evening o
the kicking tee and he eventually landed nine
from 10, including seven conversions and two
Highlanders 35 (Phil Burleigh, Patrick
Osborne tries; Lima Sopoaga 7 pen, 2 con)
beat Hurricanes 31 (Beauden Barrett 2, Ben
Franks tries; Barrett 4 pen, 2 con). Half-time:
18-9. --- APNZ
Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau
sizzled as the New South Wales
Waratahs shot back to the top of
the Australian conference with a
32-8 Super Rugby whipping of
the Melbourne Rebels last night.
After a ho-hum rst half, three
ashes of brilliance from Beale
turned the match and sparked
the Waratahs to a third bonus-
point triumph in four starts this
With victory, the Waratahs
also regained the Weary
Dunlop Shield after the Rebels'
surprise win last year season in
Shown the door by the Rebels
last year after a series of o - eld
misdemeanours, Beale reminded
his former team-mates what
they were missing with a classy
display at Allianz Stadium.
With the Waratahs ambling
and clinging to an 11-8 lead early
in the second half, Beale's sharp
inside pass to Peter Betham
sliced the defence open and the
eet-footed winger raced 40m to
dive over in the left-hand corner.
Moments later, Beale made a
scything 20m run before picking
up Folau on the inside, with the
fullback strolling over untouched
to score under the sticks.
With ve-eighth Bernard
Foley slotting both conversions,
suddenly the Waratahs were in
command at 25-8 up after 50
Fittingly, the Waratahs' bonus
point came late when Beale made
a clean break from inside his own
quarter and Folau loomed up in
support to cash in for his eighth
try in four matches in 2014.
But Beale and Folau were not
NSW's only stars.
Foley also impressed, while
giant lock Will Skelton proved
a menacing presence after being
promoted to start.
South African import Jacques
Potgeiter excelled after being
shifted from the second row to
Led by rebrand No 8 Scott
Higginbotham, the Rebels
frustrated the Waratahs in the
It was the Rebels captain's
17th-minute try, after an early
ve-pointer to Waratahs winger
Alofa Alofa, that had the visitors
trailing by only three points at
But Rebels coach Tony
McGahan admitted Beale's
impact had been the di erence.
"Kurtley's a very dangerous
player once he gets quick front-
foot ball," he said.
" ere's no better player to be
able to pick out a weak defender
in the line and to exploit and
you saw what he did there this
evening after two turnovers."
It was a particularly forgettable
night for winger Lachlan
Mitchell, who was supposed
to celebrate becoming the rst
Rebel to play 50 matches for the
Instead, Mitchell lasted barely
quarter of an hour before falling
victim to a heavy tackle from
NSW coach Michael Cheika
felt Beale "maybe tried a bit too
hard" to prove a point against
his old team in the rst half, but
praised the mid eld playmaker.
"It's a sign of how Kurtley is
maturing that he didn't panic.
He just stuck to his game, made
one nice little manoeuvre at the
start of the second half, which
put Peter Betham over for the
try," he said.
" at settled him down and
then he got going from there."
NSW's bounce-back win, after
having their bubble burst by the
Brumbies last week in Canberra,
left the Waratahs in good spirits
ahead of a tough two-game tour
of South Africa.
e Tahs face the table-topping
Sharks next weekend in Durban
before travelling to Cape Town
to tackle the Stormers. --- AAP
Beale, Folau star in Waratahs romp
India extended its domination over Pakistan
in World Cup events with a seven-wicket
demolition of the arch-rival in the Super-10
round of the World T20 in Dhaka overnight.
Leg-spinner Amit Mishra grabbed two
wickets for 22 runs in four overs as India kept
Pakistan down to 130 for seven after winning
the toss in the group two match at the Sher-
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma then
gave India a ying start with a 54-run
opening stand in eight overs as Mahendra
Singh Dhoni's men surpassed the modest
total with nine deliveries to spare.
India slipped to 65 for three before Virat Kohli
(36 not out) and Suresh Raina (35 not out)
steered the team to victory with an un nished
partnership of 66 for the fourth wicket.
Pakistan, which has never beaten India in the
50-over World Cup or the World T20, found
runs hard to come by against the Indian attack
led by Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja (1-18).
Umar Akmal top-scored for Pakistan with
33 o 30 balls, but found little support at the
other end as wickets fell at regular intervals
on the slow pitch.
Indian skipper M S Dhoni was happy with
the contributions from both his batsmen
and bowlers. Pakistan captain Mohammad
Hafeez stressed one defeat did not signal the
end of the tournament for his side.
Defending champion West Indies, Australia
and Bangladesh are the other teams in the
group, with the top two advancing to the
semi- nals. --- AFP
India beats Pakistan in T20 opener
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