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 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.
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
The G&GR MOTM
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
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
Score & Scorers
Tries: Speight 2, Pocock, McCaffrey, Banks, Muirhead, Cusack
Conversions: Lealiifano 2, Hawera
Tries: Emery, van Wyk, Quirk, Ishii
Conversions: Parker 3
80 mins – Lucas (Brumbies) – Yellow