The Brumbies have wrapped up the Aussie conference for 2017 and are into the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year with a 32-3 bonus point win over the Rebels in Canberra.
It was the second half where the Brumbies ran away with the game and showed no ill effects after travelling back from Argentina after the score was 11-3 at half time after a close first stanza.
The game opened up with both sides trying to settle in with a fair bit of kicking for position, more so from the Brumbies.
The Rebels looked to be the better of the two sides in the opening exchanges bringing a fair bit of physicality with Amanaki Mafi in particular putting in his usual display of strong running and big hits in tackles.
The Brumbies had an obvious plan to target Marika Koroibete with a number of kicks going his way but he was able to diffuse those. He also had a bit of foot traffic coming his way with Henry Speight getting into space down his wing.
It took 15 minutes for the scorer to be troubled with a penalty goal to Wharenui Hawera of the Brumbies with the Rebels levelling with a long range effort from Reece Hodge six minutes later.
Hawera landed his second penalty just after that to make it 6-3 before the Brumbies took advantage of a kick ahead from Kyle Godwin and the defence swarmed on Koroibete. The numerical advantage out wide for the Brumbies was too much and Jordan Smiler had the first five pointer of the night and the teams headed into the sheds at 11-3.
The second half started with the Rebels immediately on the back foot following a mix up from the restart. The Rebels looked to be out of trouble after Kuridrani had knocked on near the line but he made up for that just minutes later after a mix up at the back of the Rebels scrum allowed the Brumbies good field position. Hawera converted to make it 18-3.
The pressure from the Brumbies was starting to tell with the Rebels unable to get much ball down the Brumbies end and having to play primarily between their 22 and halfway.
The Brumbies had their third try around the 60 minute mark after a strong run from Chris Alcock through contact allowed the Brumbies to get quick ball and Hawera dived over and converted his own try to extend the lead to 25-3.
The Brumbies had another chance to extend their lead but some poor execution with the Rebels on the back foot saw them off the hook.
As the game opened up, both side were able to find some space but neither side could capitalise as another turnover at the ruck saw the Brumbies out of trouble after the Rebels found space down the left wing. Then almost in the same sequence, Henry Speight knocked on in attempting to re-gather a grubber kick.
To their credit, the Rebels kept attacking and Koroibete showed his speed down the left wing and was brought down right near the line but the Brumbies scrambling defence received a relieving penalty in the shadows if the posts.
With time almost up, the Brumbies added icing to the cake with the bounce of the ball going their way for their fourth try. Nigel Ah Wong was in the right place at the right time to pounce on the ball as it came off backwards off a Rebels players boot back into the in goal. Hawera capped a good game to make the final score 32-3.
The Game Changer
The second half was where the Brumbies won it with the pressure they applied too much for the Rebels as they added 21 unanswered points to run away with the match.
The G&GR MOTM
Chris Alcock – Has been one of the best in the Brumbies forward pack and one of his strong runs set up a try. Was very unlucky to miss Wallabies selection for the upcoming Test series.
Marika Koroibete had a good match, despite being on the losing side with some strong running and even put in a kick followed by a crunching tackle. Henry Speight found some open space and looked good when he had the ball. Tevita Kuridrani bagged another try and was solid tonight without being flashy and will be important piece of the Wallabies backline after Kerevi’s injury.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Smiler, Kuridrani, Hawera, Ah Wong
Conversions: Hawera 3
Penalties: Hawera 2
Photos courtesy Tim Anger