Brumbies take Bulls by the horns - Green and Gold Rugby
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Brumbies take Bulls by the horns

Brumbies take Bulls by the horns

The Brumbies have pulled off a famous victory win over the Bulls 38-28 in Pretoria in arguably their best display this season for the first Aussie team to win in South Africa in 2018. Whilst not in the same territory as the 2013 Semi final at the same venue, it was still a massive win as for the second week in a row the Brumbies went down to 14 men for the final quarter following a red card to hooker Folau Fainga’a that could very well cost him a Wallabies call up next week.

But unlike last week when they got over run by the Lions, the Brumbies last 20 minutes was immense as they lifted as a team with late tries to man-of-the-match Tom Banks and winger Andy Muirhead sealing the win.

The Brumbies can be proud of their maul defence and scrum which dominated their opponents throughout and kept repelling the Bulls attacking platform in the maul.

The Match

It was the Bulls on the board first after a frantic opening five minutes with Handre Pollard staking his claims for Springbok selection as he slipped through a bad missed tackle from Scott Sio and Sam Carter to score the opening try and convert his own try for a 7-0 lead.

Not to be outdone, the Bulls made a handling error right off the restart on their own 22 and David Pocock passed to Kyle Godwin and he went through a gap to reply for the Brumbies to level it up at 7-7 following Christian Lealiifano’s conversion.

The opening scrums were a good battle with Scott Sio getting the upper hand against his tight head opponent and rewarded with a penalty.

Lealiifano made up for an earlier penalty miss from a handy position to put the Brumbies in front at 10-7 as their wide play started to find gaps in the Bulls defensive line with Tevita Kuridrani and Henry Speight starting to get involved.

The lead wouldn’t last for long with the Bulls hitting back with some expansive play of their own down their left wing from Johnny Kotze before flanker Roelof Smit broke through one tackle on the right side and had enough power to get over the line.

The Brumbies were under real pressure around the 30-minute mark but survived that scare by defending a maul five metres out to win a turnover but again some poor execution, this time from a box kick, put them back under pressure.

The Bulls received numerous penalties in the Brumbies 22 that were kickable opportunities but declined them all but came up empty as the Brumbies maul defence held strong to got them out of trouble.

Just before the break the Brumbies almost scored from long range but it was that final option that went begging with handling errors the order of the day and combined with a penalty goal miss from Lealiifano, the half time score stayed at 14-10 even with the Brumbies only with 19% territory.

Embed from Getty Images

The Second half started off well for the Brumbies with a try to Lachlan McCaffrey within three minutes of the resumption. Another maul defensive play followed by a scrum penalty gave the Brumbies good attacking position and Joe Powell found a small gap and found McCaffrey for the try.

The scrum lottery battle continued with the Bulls coming up with the winning numbers for once and Pollard’s penalty again leveled the scores at 17-17.

They went back in front with a try to Johnny Kotze that was setup by the hot stepping Warrick Gelant as the Brumbies discipline started to let them down with some easy outs for the Bulls that allowed the margin to stretch out to eight points with another Pollard penalty goal.

It seemed that neither team wanted to take control with the Brumbies the next to score from close range to Folau Fainga’a following a series of pick and go’s as they had the Bulls on the back foot and the margin just one point with 20 minutes remaining.

But Fainga’a then undid all his good work by being the second Brumbies player to receive a red card on tour, this time for a head butt on a Bulls player after taking exception to some words said after being penalised for diving in dangerously to a ruck after referee Marius van der Westhuizen had consulted with the TMO.

Even down to 14 men, the Brumbies went in front from a brilliant individual try to fullback Tom Banks after he collected the ball on his own 22 and found a gap to burn the Bulls defence and with Hawera’s conversion, they held a slender 3 point lead.

The comeback was complete just minutes later as Andy Muirhead sealed a famous win with a try in the left corner as the Brumbies ran out 38-28 winners for a remarkable win in a remarkable game.

The Game Changer

Just like last week, around the 60 minute mark the Brumbies went down to 14 men following a brain snap from Fainga’a to get himself sent off but what happened after that should be spoken about for a long time


Tom Banks – saved his side on numerous times throughout the game and his try late on won the game in the famous victory

Wallaby Watch

Scott Sio had a better week at scrum this time around and put his opponent under pressure. David Pocock was his usual best to win some crucial turnovers at the ruck. Tevita Kuridrani has been getting more involved in recent weeks and linked well with Henry Speight in attack.

The Details

Score & Scorers

Tries: Godwin, McCaffrey, Fainga’a, Banks, Muirhead
Conversions: Lealiifano 3, Hawera 2
Penalties: Lealiifano
Tries: Pollard, Smit, Kotze
Conversions: Pollard 2
Penalties: Pollard 3


61 mins – Fainga’a (Brumbies) – Red

  • Huw Tindall

    Thanks for the write up in the wee hours of Sunday morning! Respect. Really encouraging weekend of Aussie rugby even with the Reds and Tahs getting done. All teams seem to be building week to week and whilst we don’t have NZ style depth we will put out a very competitive 23 come June.

    Other than the weakest red card of all time this was an excellent game and I have no idea where this Brumbies team has been? All the guys we’ve been shitting on all year like Godwin, Speight and TK had good games. Haven’t seen Speight run so well in literally years. Only thing that worries me is it could be enough to get them close to the Wallabies run on when a guy like Rona is probably the form 13 and outside backs like Banks and Maddocks are much more exciting. Bit negative but already have one eye on the Ireland series.

    Well done again the Ponies and hopefully they can knock of the Canes and Chiefs in the run home!

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Godwin – no, he won’t make the Wallabies despite us needing a 12 who can defend (and he is easily the best defensive 12 in Aus) as he has signed with Ireland

      Speight – he might make the squad but not he 23, the issue isn’t his attack, but his defence. Cheika likes him though, so who knows

      TK – he always lifts for the internationals, but I would still say Rona is the frontrunner on form the last two weeks

      Banks – after Folau I think he is the best back three player in Aus now that he has found his form and confidence again

      Powell – I think he’s better than Gordon – not as dynamic when running the ball or running support lines, but better everywhere else

      I think their form is a good thing as it gives Powell and Banks a chance at making the team.

      • onlinesideline

        Banks has the kind of extra stamina that certain kiwi players have used to reak havoc against us in the dying moments in past games. We really need these smaller player specific attributes in our lineup. Speed, power, endurance and confidence. The natural endurance that Banks has is really good. We are missing this across the backlne. Which is weird as it was always our forte. Can we say TK has these – a 13 should have these too. Tim Horan had it.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          In 2018 TK doesn’t have speed or power (when running the ball at least) at the start of the game.

        • onlinesideline

          seems like hes spent. Going into 2019 who is our man ?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Rona, or English. If Tomane can be coaxed home then Tomane.

          I would love if Perese is played at 13 for the Reds from here on out though. His defence is beast and he runs some wonderful lines.

        • laurence king

          Just watched the game. Banks? I thought I was watching Latham. I was very impressed with Godwin. One of Beale or Foley must go as we can’t hide two players in defence. ,But with Beale in at 10, Godwin at 12

        • onlinesideline

          I know – runs like Latham – incredible

      • Wallabrumby

        Godwin puzzles me – I feel just needs more game time and confidence, his passing and his cut out balls were always spot on and in front of the man, also as you mentioned his defense is rock solid. He seems to be a good link player to help get TK and the outside backs into the game, also his clearing kicks off his left were great. HOWEVER his hands twice let us down in attacking position and his little chip kicks and grubbers are never any good…bin them, hold the ball and back himself (he actually has some toe) and he will be a serious asset!

        • Bakkies

          The injuries have stunted his development. He came back last year with a big knee brace on.

        • Brumby Runner

          That is a spot on summary of Godwin’s play with the Brumbies. On the subject of kicking in general play, good to see CLL honing his kick pass skills to the wingers.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Congratulations, Brumbies, on a great match.

    As a fan you’ve got to wonder where this form the last two weeks has been all year as well as rue missed opportunities.

    However, it is good the team is finally playing some rugby to give this fan hope, and it is nice to see some of the guys like Banks, Lealiifano and Powell really improve coming in towards the international season.

    • Nicholas Wasiliev

      Amen to that.

  • onlinesideline

    Tom Banks is a Wallaby.

    • Wallabrumby

      Agree, would like to see him in the mix even if just the squad, an eye on the World Cup. 2 weeks in a row backing himself and he is a serious threat. The 2 tries last week against the Lions were very impressive and amazed no one talked him up then. He has good balance and his hands are solid….oh and he can kick long, a often underrated skill, particularly in Aus rugby at the moment.

  • Nicholas Wasiliev

    This was a great match to rewatch. It’s been a hard couple of weeks for Brums fans, and this match finally showed the potential they have. Great performance in what was a really encouraging week for Aussie Rugby.

    That Banks try was pure filth. Someone get that guy a Wallaby jersey.

    But the way the team rallied in the last twenty was fantastic. That’ll be a huge confidence boost for them, hopefully they’ll capitalise to finish off the season strong.

    • Will

      totally agree about Banks – I’d have him in there ahead of so many other wingers we have. The guy is so hungry for the ball and so evasive when he has it – we need that hunger and raw speed he has. He’s also only 23 or something and has a decent clearance boot on him when needed. I’d have him in a wallaby Jersey before Naiyaravoro given he’s leaving town.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Banks and Maddocks are your 2 best wingers at the moment. Some others may be better in attack but in all round skills with defence and attack these two are your top performers. Probably means neither will be called up

        • Brumby Runner

          Jordan Petaia is also in excellent form, but being only 18 will be passed over for a couple of years yet (maybe have to wait until he spends three or four years in France and then returns).

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah. We had Kirwan and Lomu come in that young but to be fair both struggled a couple of years. I’d like to see him gain some experience

  • Keith Butler

    Call that a head butt. Just rubbing noses.

    • onlinesideline

      A Maori kiss Sir

      • Keith Butler

        Not to be confused with a Liverpool Kiss where your nose is spread out to your ears.

        • onlinesideline

          As what actually happned to Liverpool football club across every TV screen I walked past tonight here in Budapest, courtesy of Real Madrid.
          Watching this game makes me love rugby even more.

  • Bobas

    Outrageous that even the match highlights don’t show the head-butt.

      • Bobas

        No I saw it, just shocked they can overlook such a piece of rugby history.

        Reminded me of 2012 when a knock on that stopped all the defenders only to have the referee call play on and then not check it. 2016 When a player could clearly lost the ball forward in the act of reaching out for a try, that was checked and somehow overlooked. Now this.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Do we think he will cop a ban?

        • Bobas

          If he does it sets a dangerous precedent (for the integrity of the game), But he could only be scratched for one week if the card is upheld.

          The only option they have to back the referees in this one is to say the clean out met the red card threshold and then never speak about it again. Clean out could have easily been yellow (at most though).

        • Wallabrumby

          With the tribunal wheel of fortune it could be anything!
          Common sense would say Red on the night was punishment enough and a standard one week ban for a red card.

    • Bakkies

      It was stupid by Fainga’a and poor leadership by Carter who was right next to the incident. He should have pulled Fainga’a away when he was being goaded. No way would Johnson, O’Connell, etc would have tolerated that kind of behaviour.

      That was knacker behaviour by the Bulls lock and has no place on a Rugby pitch. He should be given a bollocking for that.

  • Pedro

    Wasn’t expecting that to happen.

    It’s it just me or does Banks always play good in south Africa?

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Not just you…

      And against the Jaguares.

      • Bakkies

        and Muirhead he got his breakthrough in SA against the Kings last year.

  • MST

    Any news on the “serious foul play” that the referee mentioned at least three times, held up the game but wasn’t checked? Looked like it was the no. 14 Bulls player on Muirhead.

    What was the reason they didn’t check for it? We found it quite easily by rewinding and watching so it can’t be that they couldn’t find it. I thought that “serious foul play” (referees words) could be checked even if there had been a stoppage or play had continued.

    • I was under the impression that it was a Bulls player making the allegation (to get the try reversed). It clearly didn’t come from the TMO.

      • MST

        It wasn’t really clear who accused who, I was just going by what I saw when we looked. I couldn’t see any other contact happen. I thought the ref said he couldn’t check because there had been a lineout, personally I think it’s silly that for something that he kept describing as serious the rules say they can’t check.

        • ref said he couldnt check & would refer it- they never showed who he was explaining it to

      • Wallabrumby

        I heard Sam Carter talking to the Ref so I think it was the Brums asking for it.

        • got it – thanks!

    • ps – the reason they didn’t check was a line-out had occurred so they couldn’t review back that far.

    • Bobas

      what time was the clock at when it happened? I had a look but couldn’t see.

  • Brumby Runner

    First, Marius van der Westhuizen is clearly the best referee going round in the Southern Hemisphere. A couple of iffy decisions but nothing overly contentious. Even the head butt incident, though minor, was probably correctly adjudicated according to the laws. He is otherwise one of the most respectful referees to the players and is open to having a discussion with the captain, and the team on occasions, to explain his decisions.

    For the Brumbies, Joe Powell was in the thick of things and put in the best half back display over the weekend. Pocock is immense – worth two or three mortal players on the ground. Sam Carter has added a lot of aggression to his ball carrying. Tom Banks has a look of Latho about him; not as good but plays in the same style. Hopefully, will be as good some day.

    • Andy

      Banks could be lethal off the bench. He has some serious gas which would be great against tired legs. I’d almost consider him for one of the wings against Ireland

  • Adrian

    Certainly didn’t pick this one, or pick that the Brumbies inside backs would do something creative, and ultimately unleash the speed in the back three.

    Well done, and we’ll done Pocock, Sio and Alaalatoa who are finding form on cue. Perhaps this also applies to Kurandrani and Speight…and Powell,…and Banks. Potentially 7 Wallabies, though I’d only select 4 or 5 in the squad.

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