The Brumbies made hard work of it but they have finally snapped a four game losing streak with a tough 19-10 win over the Kings in Port Elizabeth to become the first Australian side to win in South Africa in 2017.
It certainly was not pretty as they dominated the possession and territory stats throughout the game and it came down to the final 20 minutes when they scored two brilliant tries off the back of kicks to get back in the game and held on to win.
The Kings were full of confidence after recent wins and they showed their hand early by going wide with their speedy backs. In just the third minute, they kicked ahead down the left wing and Makazole Mapimpi hit the gas to outrun Tom Banks who dived in vain to prevent the try. Banks knocked the ball away right away the line to give referee Jaco Peyper no option but to award a penalty try via the TMO and Banks a yellow card for his effort.
The Brumbies also tried to get their backs involved with Kuridrani and Speight getting their hands on the ball with strong carries. They had a shot at penalty goal to reduce the gap with Banks still in the bin but Wharenui Hawera shanked his attempt from a decent position.
The Brumbies forwards then had the next crack at getting over the line and made good progress but the execution that had been lacking in recent games again hampered them near the line, as the Kings were able to clear their line after a turnover.
After 15 minutes Lionel Cronje extended the Kings lead to ten points with a penalty goal after the Kings scrum got on the front foot.
Around the 20 minute mark, the Brumbies had a series of penalties right on the Kings line after the Kings had trouble defending the maul and after Ross Geldenhuys went to the bin for the fourth time this season, Josh Mann-Rea ended a 230 minute try drought to roll over from close range to make it 10-5 after Hawera’s missed conversion.
Despite nearly 75% possession and similar territory stats for the Brumbies, they could not add to the score with the Kings defence and small handling errors frustrating their attack.
Just before the break, it looked like the Brumbies had their second try after Arnold went over but the TMO claimed ‘clear and compelling’ evidence the ball travelled forward after the ball came off Sam Carter’s arm in the lead up to leave it 10-5 at half time and the Brumbies ruing a few chances in the first half.
The second half started with two penalties against the Kings and the Brumbies were denied a chance to use their maul again as Peyper claimed the Kings didn’t engage the maul to give away a scrum.
It was those little things seemed to be the order of the game for the Brumbies as a missed kick to touch off a penalty and an unnecessary grubber kick on attack stifled any chance to get back in the game.
The Kings who had barely played down the Brumbies end, went closest to scoring next but the bounce of the ball evaded Cronje just five metres out. The Kings should have had the Brumbies on the rack and scored again after back-to-back scrums but a poor cross-field kick from Cronje gave them an easy out.
With the game into the last 20 minutes, the visitors swooped on a poor quick lineout option from the Kings and Joe Powell kicked ahead for Aidan Toua who dived and collected the ball in the one motion to score the Brumbies second try. Hawera converted from out wide to put the Brumbies in front for the first time at 12-5.
This seemed to spring the Brumbies into action and they scored again to Tom Banks in the same area that he earlier gave away the penalty try after a deft grubber kick from Tevita Kuridrani, of all people. Hawera’s conversion made it a nine-point margin in the last ten minutes.
The Brumbies held on for the last few minutes with Jarrad Butler winning a crucial turnover in his own 22 as they held on for a 19-10 win.
The Game Changer
The Kings not taking their points when up 10-5 followed by the final 20 minutes when the Brumbies scored tries to Toua and Banks.
The G&GR MOTM
Allan Alaalatoa – had a big game with some strong runs and held his own at scrum time against a big pack.
Tevita Kuridrani and Henry Speight had a few good carries in a game where they looked to get involved heavily. Rory Arnold and Allan Alaalatoa had a busy game with some strong ball carrying, with Arnold unlucky to be denied a try in a game made for forwards.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Mann-Rea, Toua, Banks
Conversions: Hawera 2
Tries: Penalty try
3 mins – Banks (Brumbies) – Yellow
21 min – Geldenhuys (Kings) – Yellow
Raucous when the Kings had the ball