Brumbies defence does the job against the Stormers - Green and Gold Rugby
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Brumbies defence does the job against the Stormers

Brumbies defence does the job against the Stormers

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.

The Match

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.


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.

Wallaby Watch

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.

The Details

Score & Scorers

Tries: Samu, Arnold, Banks
Conversions: Lealiifano 2
Tries: Penalty try, Louw
Conversions: Stander
Penalties: Stander


40 mins – Pulu (Brumbies) – Yellow

  • Greg Truman

    Best performance by an Australian team this year. Arnold was (is) huge. Biggest positive was they didn’t fold under pressure, unlike every other Oz Super squad. Stormers were messy but had a mountain of possession and territory. They would have put a few a few on most sides.

    • Steve

      I’m not sure Greg, I think the Brums put themselves under more pressure than they needed to for a lot of the game and didn’t control the game.

      But can’t fault the effort in defence or the taking of their opportunities.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I was impressed by how they defended. We were without all three of our preferred back-rowers remember, in Pocock, McCaffrey and Valetini.

      • Greg Truman

        Yeah, some times the best performances aren’t the most fluent. Reckon we lose sight of that a bit. Really thrilled to see an Aussie side play with grit and some organizational intelligence.

  • Pedro

    Nice write up Steve.
    I thought the penalty try was on balance a fair call. While not malicious, the tackle was high and had no try been attempted it was a definite try would have been called. The yellow card however I thought was harsh the tackled player was short and leaning over making a high tackle hard to avoid. The tackle itself was over the shoulder rather than under the chin. Seems like a penalty try alone should have matched the infringement.

    • I agree it was the right call but if that knock on 50 metres downfield is picked up, it never gets to that point.

      It’s not the worst yellow card given to a Brumbies player there, Steve Walsh once gave a a penalty try and yellow card against Christian Lealiifano for something that happened on the sideline and 22.

      • Steve

        Can we please never talk about Steve Walsh again.

        • Yes. It was for comparison purposes only.

          Or something.

    • joy

      Had he made a legitimate tackle the try would not have been scored in my book. Why was there no doubt that he would slide further in a legit tackle? No certainty no try no card.

      • Pedro

        Good point.

      • Brumby Runner

        I think the test is that when an illegal tackle is made, the decision has to ignore that tackle and look at whether he would have been stopped otherwise. Whether that’s a good test or not is another matter.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I don’t think any of the referees know for sure what the test really is.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Steve I’ve just finished watching this game and it was a cracker. Arnold was MOTM for me. He was instrumental in that first try, scored the 2nd and was a beast all night. His disruption of the rolling mauls saved a couple of try’s. TBF I thought the Brumbies were let of early with the number of penalties in the red zone and no yellow card. I’d have sent someone to the bin for a team yellow much earlier. PT was correct call to me as well.
    However, some great defence and while the Stormers looked pretty one dimensional the Brumbies held on well. TK was very good at 13 and for me Kerevi at 12 and TK at 13 are the form centres right now.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Australia had a lot of good locks right now, but I think Rory should be partnering Rodda if we are selecting on form and ability. Rory is more like a Kiwi lock in that he has the ball skills of a loosie.

      Salakaia-Loto can perform the same role off the bench. Coleman’s form just isn’t doing it for me anymore.

      • Rick Harrison

        Coleman looks disinterested or he is carrying an injury?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Not sure mate, but he hasn’t really been in good form since 2017 unfortunately.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Brumbies might regret that second half capitulation against the Rebels. Were it not for that, we would be right in the hunt to top the conference.

    Such as life. Got to beat the Jaguares next week now.

    Would be nice if Dan could get the team playing well at the start of the season, rather than only playing well towards the end every time.

  • Brumby Runner

    Brown and Samu both put in massive efforts, as did the whole team in defense, but the stand out for me was Rory Arnold. A try from his own charge down; a try assist for Pete Samu, destroyed maul after maul by the Stormers and set up and drove the Brumbies mauls forward; a good number of hit ups and invariably made a metre or two in contact; some very hurtful tackles. That sort of performance has Brodie Retallick rightfully regarded as the best lock in the world at present. Such was the quality of Arnold’s game last night.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Not a one-off for Rory in terms of maul defences either. Always been a strength of his.

      • Brumby Runner

        He has been consistently the best maul proponent in the country for several years. But his defense is also awesome. Last night, made 24 tackles apparently and quite a few of them drove the ball carrier backwards a metre or two.

        Such a pity that he is leaving for overseas next year at a still young age of 27/28.

  • Cameron Rivett

    All I can say is wow. That was the most Herculean defensive effort I’ve seen in years. I think the Brumbies had less than 1/3 possession and made well over 200 tackles, and were stilly unlucky to concede either try. Incredible display, especially considering the entire back row was second string.

  • Rick Harrison

    Quite a few had huge games . . . Speight, Cusack, Lealiifano also

    • Brumby Runner

      Tom Cusack was again a bit disappointing to me. Missed a number of tackles, probably as many as the team as a whole, and gives away too many penalties for my liking. Thought he was lucky not to get pinged late in the game when he chased Henry Speight’s kick from well off side. Only thing that could have saved a penalty would have been a touch on the ball by a Stormers’ player as Henry kicked it, but I didn’t see it if that happened.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        He is excellent squad depth, but I don’t think he makes our first choice 23 with everyone fit.

    • Zippo

      Allan Ala’atoa had a massive game.
      Approx 70 minutes game time, doing the tough yards and hard carries, being in the front line of the Stormers battering rams, and those scrums

  • Nutta

    Cheers Steve for the effort.

    I don’t recall seeing another game where one team was already in the tunnel before being called back out.

    Huge defensive game by K’drani. Just when I had written him out he turns in a performance like that. Brilliant I thought.

    And given the garbage seen in Scum v Tarts, Banks and L’fano also played themselves fair back into contention.

    I agree MOTM goes to Arnold.

    I hope JMR is ok. He’s the tiki torch for all us old fellas at the moment.

    • Sounds like Mann-Rea has done his ACL so that could be it for him.

      • Nutta

        That’s bloody sad.

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