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Brumbies strengthen play-off claims

The Brumbies improved their chances of making the Super Rugby play-offs after they beat the Bulls to move top of the Australian Conference.

Henry Speight ran in two tries to give the Brumbies a 22-16 win in an entertaining match in Canberra on Friday.

The result means the Brumbies are second in the overall standings - 13 points behind the Hurricanes - and the Bulls now face a tough challenge to qualify for the play-offs after dropping to ninth.

The victory came at a cost for the Brumbies though as Australia lock Sam Carter hobbled off with a knee injury following a collision with Bjorn Basson.

The hosts started poorly, with Christian Lealiifano missing two early penalty kicks.

The Bulls' Handre Pollard showed him how it was done, kicking his first two penalties to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.

After Carter came off, the Brumbies got their first points on the board when Lealiifano kicked a penalty.

Carter's replacement Jordan Smiler made an immediate impact, collecting Nic White's pass and puncturing the Bulls' back line to score the first try of the evening.

The Bulls moved ahead again after the break when Pollard kicked his third penalty following a foul by Ben Alexander.

Just three minutes later, Speight crossed to make it 13-9 to the Brumbies and Lealiifano converted to give the Australians a six-point lead.

The Fijian added another try soon after, shrugging off two desperate challenges before diving over the line. Lealiifano converted to move the score on to 22-9 to the hosts.

The Bulls made for a tense end when Pollard converted Lappies Labuschagne's try 13 minutes from time, but they could not find another score and the Brumbies held on for a valuable four-point win.

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