The Brumbies tour of South Africa hasn’t started well as they went down 42-24 to the Lions in Johannesburg. The Brumbies were right in the contest for 60 minutes before a red card to Rory Arnold followed by a yellow to Sam Carter saw them down to 13 men and halt any chance of victory.
A double to Tom Banks wasn’t enough for the visitors as discipline cost the Brumbies as they were on the receiving end of a 20-9 penalty count. Christian Lealiifano played well to give his side hope at 24-21 before the late surge from the Lions saw them score 21 points in as many minutes to secure the hard fought win.
The Brumbies got off to a perfect start with a try to fullback Tom Banks as the clock just ticked past one minute. An error from the kickoff by the Lions allowed the Brumbies to re-gather and after a few phases of patient buildup, Banks hit the gas through a gap to score in the right corner. Christian Lealiifano’s conversion made it 7-0.
But they also made an error from the restart to put themselves under pressure deep in their own 22. After a series of scrums they survived one raid on their line with Sylvain Mahuza denied by the TMO but Rohan Janse van Rensburg would not be denied as he used his huge frame off an inside pass from Elton Jantjies. Jantjies converted to level with ten minutes gone.
The Lions were again the own worst enemy as they tried to exit their own end but again made an error this time with a charged down kick. The scrums had been a battle so far with Scott Sio and Ruan Dreyer copping the ire of referee Nick Briant who remarked to them that ‘no one had come to see them collapse scrums’ and after another penalty, Tevita Kuridrani crashed over in his 100th Super Rugby game to put the Brumbies back in the lead at 14-7 after Lealiifano’s conversion.
The Lions then started to get into the game with the Brumbies unable to get out of their own half. A series of penalties went their way to put the Brumbies on the backfoot, including another scrum penalty and a yellow card to Rory Arnold for collapsing a maul and the extra man advantage was too much for them to defend as Robbie Coetzee rolled over from the resulting penalty.
The Brumbies looked to have defended well in the ten-minute period Arnold was off and even scored a penalty goal but right on half time the Lions edged in front with a try to Dreyer as the Brumbies discipline let them down with another run of penalties against them trying to defend the strong Lions set piece.
The start of the second half saw the Brumbies defending their line for the opening ten minutes but they did extremely well to repel the Lions and pressured them into dropped ball and escaped with a relieving penalty.
Despite having little ball, the Brumbies went back in front with Banks bagging his second try after a neat inside ball from Lealiifano saw Banks beat two tacklers and outrun the defence from 22 metres out. Lealiifano continued his 100% success off the tee for a 24-21 lead.
At that point David Pocock and Isi Naisarani who were both returning from injury were substituted and then just minutes later Rory Arnold was given a red card for a late and high hit on Elton Jantjies, which wasn’t his first of the game. Irrespective of the card it was going to be his last involvement after an earlier yellow card and completed a disappointing game for him. A yellow card followed this to Sam Carter for repeated infringing attempting to defend the lineout after numerous warnings.
The two-man advantage was always going to be hard to defend and the Lions went to the rolling maul and replacement Marnus Schoeman had the Lions fourth try of the game and the Lions back in front at 28-24.
The Brumbies made a host of changes towards the end of the game as they defended valiantly but the weight of possession was too much to keep out with Shaun Reynolds adding the match sealer for the Lions and Lourens Erasmus added icing to the cake as the score blew out to 42-24.
There will be cause for concern for the Brumbies as Rob Valetini helped off injured late in the game and looked to be favouring his knee and hopefully it’s not too bad.
The Game Changer
60th minute – The red card to Arnold followed by the yellow to Carter halted any momentum and any chance of an unlikely victory for the Brumbies
The G&GR MOTM
Kwagga Smith – The forwards battle was a tough affair but his efforts were enough to get his side over the line. Shout to Lealiifano who looked likely to slay the Lions in their own den by himself before the late drama
Scott Sio had a torrid night up against his tight-head opponent. Tevita Kuridrani got more ball than he had most of this season and bagged a try in his 100th. David Pocock was back to his ruck burgling best after a calf injury
Score & Scorers
Tries: Banks 2, Kuridrani
Conversions: Lealiifano 3
Tries: R. Janse van Rensberg, R. Coetzee, Dreyer, M. Schoeman, Reynolds, Erasmus
Conversions: Jantjies 6
29 mins – Arnold (Brumbies) – Yellow
60 mins – Arnold (Brumbies) – Red
62 mins – Carter (Brumbies) – Yellow