The Brumbies have put on one of the most impressive defensive efforts to come away with a truly gutsy 19-17 win over the Stormers in Cape Town and make it back-to-back wins for the first time in 2019.
Inconsistency had been one of their biggest issues in 2019 but with only 30% possession and even less territory, the Brumbies muscled up around the breakdown and on the back of a mammoth 230 tackles came away with a win.
Early tries to Pete Samu and Rory Arnold set them up before a momentum shift right on half time with a controversial penalty try and yellow card to Toni Pulu looked like the Stormers might come away with a win but missed chances from the Stormers and another try to Tom Banks saw the Brumbies hang on for the two point win to get their two match tour off to a great start.
After absorbing early pressure from the Stormers, the visitors got off to a great start with the opening try in just the sixth minute to Pete Samu in the left corner with a neat offload from Rory Arnold for the last pass.
The good start looked to be undone with a penalty to the Stormers right off the restart after Folau Fainga’a obstructed a runner and new fly-half Joshua Stander converted the penalty goal.
And the frantic start continued as Arnold’s hands came to good use again as he charged down a box kick from Herchel Jantjies and collected the ball with a spin move and score the Harlem Globetrotters would be proud of to make it 12-3 within ten minutes.
In his first start for the Brumbies, Jahrome Brown looked right at home in the early stages and won a number of crucial turnovers to get his side out of trouble in what turned out to be a man of the match performance.
The Stormers forwards started to get a roll on as they got stuck into the physical stuff and a big hit around the 20-minute mark forced Folau Fainga’a off after a clash of heads with Cobus Wiese but would somehow later return.
With the Brumbies under extreme pressure on their own line on the back of a number of penalties, it looked like the Stormers had scored their first try but TMO Marius Jonker found a small knock on in the lead up to get them off the hook. And another knock on just metres from the line from Steven Kitshoff got them out of jail after defending for about ten minutes.
The Brumbies looked to have survived to half time with a 12-3 lead but a late break from Jantjies was hauled down by Toni Pulu and the Brumbies kicked it out for half time and were almost in the sheds but the TV director struck again to correctly rule a high tackle and a penalty try and yellow card but an earlier knock on was missed that referee Nick Briant said he couldn’t rule on to make it 12-10 at the break.
With the Brumbies down a player to start the second half, the Stormers used their advantage well and took the lead after five minutes of the resumption, with the period after half time a problem area for the Brumbies in 2019. Wilco Louw made up for his early knock on and after slow pick and go progress, he burrowed over from close range and Stander’s conversion made it 17-12
The home side looked to go further in front as Dillyn Leyds swooped on an intercept from Lealiifano and Ruhan Nel set sail for the line but a covering tackle from Henry Speight nudged Nel into touch as he put the ball down with the momentum all with the Stormers.
With the game entering the final 20 minutes, the Brumbies wrestled back the lead with their first real chance with the ball in the second half and with some deft handling and front foot ball, a long ball found Tom Banks and he strolled over untouched to continue his try scoring form in the Republic and Lealiifano’s conversion made it 19-17.
Josh Mann-Rea had only been on the field for a few minutes but he had to be replaced after what appeared to be a knee injury, which meant Fainga’a had to return to the field.
The Stormers had a chance to get back in front after taking a shot at penalty goal, something they had declined in the first half but Stander’s attempt was wide.
With the game in the last ten minutes and the Stormers hot on attack, Pete Samu won a relieving penalty under his own sticks to allow the Brumbies to get out of their own end and a few more penalties for good measure was all it needed as the Brumbies held on for a huge win to open their tour.
The Game Changer
It looked like the penalty try right on half time would allow the Stormers to get back into the game and run away with it but the Brumbies defensive work in the second half, including the try saver by Henry Speight combined with some poor options allowed them to nullify the Stormers.
The G&GR MOTM
Jahrome Brown got the official nod and looked impressive in his first start but you can’t leave out the work of try scorers Rory Arnold monstering the maul and Pete Samu around the ruck and their work around the field was crucial to the win.
With a forwards dominated game, Rory Arnold showed what he can do, disrupting mauls (legally and illegally) but also a charge down, spin move and score. Pete Samu was instrumental filling for the injured Locky McCaffrey. Tom Banks had a solid game and scored in Africa for the third year running.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Samu, Arnold, Banks
Conversions: Lealiifano 2
Tries: Penalty try, Louw
40 mins – Pulu (Brumbies) – Yellow