The Hong Kong Telegraph - Head injury concerns for Barrett, Banks as Brumbies stay unbeaten

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Head injury concerns for Barrett, Banks as Brumbies stay unbeaten
Head injury concerns for Barrett, Banks as Brumbies stay unbeaten

Head injury concerns for Barrett, Banks as Brumbies stay unbeaten

Wallabies star Tom Banks was hospitalised with a facial fracture as the ACT Brumbies maintained their unbeaten start to the Super Rugby Pacific season on a brutal weekend that saw All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett suffer another head knock.

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The Brumbies edged Force 39-38 in Perth, recovering after a controversial red card was given to full-back Banks in the 29th minute for what appeared to be an accidental head clash with Toni Pulu.

Force were trailing 20-3 at the time but after being awarded a penalty try, they ran in another three tries to one during the 20 minutes the Brumbies were down to 14 men -- new rules this season that mean a player sent off can be replaced after that period has elapsed.

Once back to full strength, Dan McKellar's men clung on to bank their sixth straight win on the back of a hat-trick from winger Andy Muirhead.

Brumbies coach McKellar said Banks didn't deserve a red card.

"Deliberate foul play -- throw red cards at them all the time. But for accidents, for god's sake, we're going to have accidents every week," he told reporters.

"Banksy is sitting in hospital now with a facial fracture. I don't think he deliberately went in to do that. I think it's ridiculous."

The win kept the Brumbies top of the 12-team table on 26 points, four clear of the Queensland Reds who silenced the NSW Waratahs 32-20 in Brisbane.

The Canterbury Crusaders downed the Waikato Chiefs 34-19 to retain third spot and seven adrift of the Brumbies with a game in hand.

- Fat lip, bleeding nose -

The injury is likely to keep Banks out for some time, with Barrett also being closely monitored after leaving the pitch with blood pouring from his nose during the Auckland Blues' 32-25 win over the Otago Highlanders in Dunedin.

Barrett had only just returned after a concussion suffered in a Test against Ireland in November and was taken from the field in the 41st minute after a high-speed collision.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald said Barrett had "a good fat lip and a bleeding nose" and they would take no chances with him.

"Hopefully it's nothing too much more than that, but we'll have to track him and see how he turns up," he told reporters.

Defeat consigned the Highlanders to a fifth straight loss.

"Rugby can be cruel sometimes and we're catching nothing at the moment," said skipper Aaron Smith.

In Hamilton, competition heavyweights the Crusaders got revenge against the Chiefs after narrowly losing to them in round four.

The game turned on a devastating line break and try from Sevu Reece with 23 minutes left after they led by just three points at half-time.

"Last time the Chiefs had the better of it, dominated physically," said Crusaders skipper Scott Barrett. "We had to turn up physically and I thought the boys showed plenty of effort in that area."

The Reds' barnstorming season continued against the 'Tahs, clocking a fifth win from six despite a red card for prop Dane Zander and a yellow for captain Tate McDermott, both at the same time which left them two men short for 10 minutes.

Tries from Jock Campbell, Taniela Tupou, Fraser McReight and McDermott, along with 10 points from James O'Connor's boot, saw them over the line.

In other games, Moana Pasifika beat the Wellington Hurricanes 24-19 for their first win of the season but fellow Pacific newcomers Fijian Drua crashed 42-27 to the Rebels in Melbourne.

Victory was a massive relief for the Rebels, who snapped a five-game losing streak this season.

"I'm so proud -- I feel relief but also so happy for the boys," coach Kevin Foote said after the five tries to three win. "It's been a tough start for us but that was awesome."