Brumbies hold out the big bad wolves - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

Brumbies hold out the big bad wolves

Brumbies hold out the big bad wolves

The Brumbies head into the Test window with a 41-31 win over a gallant Sunwolves in Canberra. A two-try effort from Henry Speight was the highlight of the Brumbies seven tries as they steadied after a scare early in the second half as the Sunwolves were only two points in arrears before scoring two tries in five minutes.

The Sunwolves were good in patches and scored four good tries themselves but the defensive effort they had to put in seemed to tire them and allow the Brumbies to take control before running out eventual ten point winners.

The Match

The Brumbies dominated the early possession with a good mix of forwards and backs getting involved early. New Wallaby member Tom Banks found some gaps out wide against the rush defence from the Sunwolves to link up with Henry Speight on one occasion.

After a penalty for high tackle, the forwards got involved in close and the non-rested David Pocock got the Brumbies on the board in the eighth minute after a few drives form close range. Lealiifano converted for a 7-0 lead.

The visitors had their chance to put the Brumbies under pressure on their own line but Banks cleaned up at the back and gave the an easy out for a penalty.

That gave the Brumbies another chance to launch an attack and Joe Powell found a small gap and linked up with Lachlan McCaffrey to score the Brumbies second try of the game.

The Sunwolves started to get some continuity and looked dangerous when they had the ball, especially fullback Robbie Robinson, with their link play putting the Brumbies on the back foot. They won a penalty with sharp shooter Hayden Parker slotting it to get his side on the board.

But the momentum they had worked hard to gain was sucked out of them right off the restart with Pocock winning a penalty right in front of the sticks. From the resulting scrum off first phase, Banks accelerated through the gap to score and continue his try scoring form of recent weeks.

The Sunwolves finally got on the try scorers list five minutes before the break with a stroke of luck as former Brumbies player Harumichi Tatekawa charged down a Lealiifano clearing kick and it sat up nicely for Jason Emery to re-gather and score and make the score 19-10.

The Brumbies had one last chance before half time with an attacking five-metre scrum but Andy Muirhead was denied by the TMO after ruling he grounded the ball on the foot of the defender in the act of scoring and lost the ball forward.

Embed from Getty Images

The Sunwolves didn’t waste any time after the break to reduce the margin. Some casual Brumbies kick return defence allowed Hayden Parker to slice through a gap and find Semisi Masirewa. It was only a matter of time before they scored and it was Hencus van Wyk who scored. Parker’s conversion made it just a two point game.

Almost immediately, the Brumbies hit back with Muirhead scoring down the left wing despite the protests from Willie Britz who claimed a forward pass in the lead up.

The Sunwolves came under pressure with back-to-back penalties in their own end and after some good defence initially and poor options from the Brumbies, they gave the Brumbies backs too much space and Henry Speight went over to give the Brumbies some breathing space as Pocock and Sio left the field.

Pocock’s replacement Tom Cusack had only been on the field for a few minutes before finding the line. The Sunwolves defence was getting stretched out wide with Kyle Godwin and Speight getting the Brumbies on the front foot down the right wing before the ball was spread to the left wing for Cusack to score and make it 34-17.

With the subs bench being emptied, the Brumbies lost a bit of structure and allowed the Sunwolves back into the game. Masirewa had been a real handful throughout the game and then it was Ed Quirk who had the third try for the vistors to make the margin ten with ten minutes to go.

But the Brumbies then stepped it up to score another first phase try to man of the match Speight to top of a good night and put the disappointment of missing Wallabies selection behind him and put the score out to 41-24.

With time almost up the Sunwolves had one last try in them with replacement Kai Ishii getting over in the right corner even with Matt Lucas hitting him with a no arms tackle that earned him a yellow card. Parker continues his kicking prowess to make the final score 41-31.

The Game Changer

Two tries within five minutes in the second half allowed the Brumbies to get back on track and gain some breathing room after the margin was just two after the break


A few putting their hands up for this one, Pocock won a few turnovers at the ruck but Henry Speight gets the nod with a try scoring double and 14 runs for 175 metres and six tackle busts

Wallaby Watch

A solid 55 minutes for Scott Sio and David Pocock with a few more minutes for Allan Alaalatoa in a game that was a good forwards battle, especially around the scrum

The Details

Score & Scorers

Tries: Speight 2, Pocock, McCaffrey, Banks, Muirhead, Cusack
Conversions: Lealiifano 2, Hawera
Tries: Emery, van Wyk, Quirk, Ishii
Conversions: Parker 3
Penalties: Parker


80 mins – Lucas (Brumbies) – Yellow

  • jay-c

    Brumbies fans should be absolutely ashamed of the decision of their coach to play Sio and Pocock 6 days out from a test. Equally disappointing was that seemingly the majority of brumbies fans supported and defended the idea.
    An injury to either of these players would have meant a series loss to Ireland would have been assured in my books considering the alternatives.
    Unacceptable to put self interest above that of the national team.
    The only player less replaceable in the wallaby team for me is Genia (and he had the week off).
    If my team’s coach had pulled a stunt like that over a nothing game I would be absolutely mortified.
    So what if they were the only team that was asked, the fact is, the national coach did ask and the brumbies failed to do what was best for the national team.

    • Deeeeeejay

      Injury is a poor reason – Last nights Red v Waratah could have been a real ding dong affair with a higher chance of injury. Why would be it be any different for a game that’s less than 24 hours later?

      So you can take your criticism and, well… because if there was any equity in the situation, the Rebels, Tahs and Reds would also have been asked to stand down their Wallabies this weekend too.

      • jay-c

        It’s different because the alternative to Sio and Pocock is the difference between being competitive in the scrum and at the ruck and not being competitive.
        You’ll notice I didn’t mention all player simply because we have adequate alternatives in the other positions.
        I am only interested in whats best for the national team, shame you’re trying to defend someone who clearly prioritizes his own ego to the detriment of the wallabies.

        • Deeeeeejay

          If you want to head down that path, who are are our realistic 9 10 pairings, and did they play this weekend?

        • jay-c

          happy to concede the alternatives for 9 and 10 are not great, but considering we lost slipper a week ago our alternative to Sio is robinson and then nobody, against the Irish scrum we’d be better off going uncontested. The alternative to pocock is handing the Irish free rein at the ruck, basically surrendering to the irish backrow- he’s that important. (with him we were #2 in the world, without we’re #4

        • jay-c

          But to answer your question, personally I order 9s as: Genia, Gordon, Powell, Phipps (60 mins max), ruru.
          10s- Foley, beale, Lilo, Stewart. maddox
          Not great, but I rate these alternatives far above how I rate our alternatives for Sio and pocock

        • qwasimodo

          Without Folau we have no defence to the Irish aerial game.
          Without Beale we have no spark in attack.
          Without Genia we have no half decent box kicking and no structure.
          Without Coleman we have no muscle in the second row.
          Without Foley we don’t have a 10 at all.

          Sio and Pocock are also critical but it’s not reasonable to say that they need to be rested over the others.

    • Bobas

      You do realise an athlete is either recovering from injury or on their way to their next one. I’m firmly of the opinion injury resistance is only built due with playing.
      As a kid I got told it was flexibility will prevent shit happening, so stretch those hammies. For someone like me who had little pain reception in my hamstrings it would basically hamper performance.
      Compare Jordan Ulese with Michael Hooper.
      Brumbies coach did nothing wrong. Pocock more likely to get injured by Cheik saying he’s come to camp ‘unfit’.

    • Pedro

      Professional sports team plays its best players when fit, what a shocker.

    • RugbyM

      and the Rebels decision to play our only test-experienced available hooker is what…?! He’s now out for the rest of the year.

      Injuries happen unfortunately. Especially in a sport like rugby. Doesn’t matter if its pre-season, round 1 or the first 3mins of the RWC final.

      The Brumbies chose to play their available and in-form players in a match they wanted to win. The Reds and Tahs and Rebels weren’t asked to stand down players in preparation for the upcoming test series.

  • Hoss

    Anyone know the crowd ? It seemed about 6,500 close to 15k……….

    • Deeeeeejay

      About 11k

    • Mr Wobbly

      9,521 – according to the radio coverage

  • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

    Pocock only playing 55 mins IS him being rested.

  • Nutta

    Morning Y’All

    Observations from a ‘Never-was’ (so can’t be a ‘Has-been’):

    > For once I actually agree with Kafer’s comment that the Donkeys need to develop alternate ways to win other than set-piece to set-piece. It’s one-dimensional which means when it doesn’t work they are stuffed as is evidenced by their position on the ladder. Furthermore if folks are going to write and publish tut-tut pieces in the media about ‘crowds need to show-up and support or else…’ then they better have something sale-able to sell to get aforementioned crowds to show up. I’ll stay away from the sanctimony of having professional rugby entities chastise me for not supporting their entitlement.

    > In a nation where we will defend the interests of the one against the good of the many (eg Shute Shield vs Greater Rugby), can we be surprised by the Donkeys fielding the talent at their disposal? Especially when they don’t have comfort/gap on the competition table to do so? If we want to stop this garbage then we must centralise. Can’t have cake and eat it too. One or the other, but don’t bitch if we choose one but want the other.

    > Speight has had enough chances to own a national jumper. He’s a damn good Super player and would be an addition to any club/provincial team but this miss-out will probably means he goes North to The Wall come next contract.

    > The biggest thing for me is to keep up pressure then skip ahead in the last 10-15min as the Donkeys did here. NZ has been doing it to us for years so keep learning the lessons guys.

ACT Brumbies

Canberra born and bred Rugby fan brought up on Canberra Kookaburra and ACT Brumbies Rugby.

More in ACT Brumbies