The Brumbies got their Super Rugby campaign back on track when they claimed a deserved 26-14 victory against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
The men from Canberra, who suffered an agonising last-minute defeat against the Highlanders last week, were full value for their win as they were in control of proceedings for most of this match.
The result is a momentous one as it ends a 13-match losing streak for the Brumbies on New Zealand soil – they hadn’t won in that country since they beat the Hurricanes in March 2014.
Tries from Tom Banks, Solomone Kata and Pete Samu (2) helped the Brumbies to victory and their other points came courtesy of three conversions from Noah Lolesio, who also caught the eye with his general play.
For the Chiefs, Aaron Cruden and Anton Lienert-Brown scored tries which were both converted by Damian McKenzie.
The Brumbies made an excellent start and raced into a 19-0 lead at half-time courtesy of three well-taken tries from Banks, Kata and Samu.
They opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Banks crashed over after slipping through a tackle from McKenzie deep inside the Chiefs’ 22.
That early five-pointer boosted the Canberra-based side’s confidence as they opted to run the ball from all areas of the field. That tactic gave the Brumbies the upper-hand as they had most of the possession and in the 15th minute their inside backs created space for Kata out wide and he rounded off in the right-hand corner.
And just before the interval they capitalised on a huge scrum on the Chiefs’ five-metre line when Samu broke from the back of the set-piece before dotting down under the posts.
The home side seemed shell-shocked but that did not deter the Brumbies who continued to attack after the interval. Shortly after the restart they increased their lead when Samu crossed for his second converted try after a superb run in which he beat three defenders on his way over the try-line.
With the score 26-0 to the visitors the Chiefs needed to respond and the rest of the half saw them upping the ante on attack but it wasn’t enough to haul in their opponents.
In the 48th minute, Alex Nankivell put his team on the front-foot with a powerful surge deep inside Brumbies territory before Cruden went over for their first try after running onto a pass from Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.
That score was a shot in the arm for the Chiefs and they ran the ball from all areas of the field during the rest of the half. In the 53rd minute, the Brumbies were dealt a blow when James Slipper was yellow carded when he tackled Tahuriorangi inside the 10-metre radius after the scrum-half took a tap penalty.
The Chiefs soon benefited from their numerical advantage when Lienert-Brown gathered a pass from Tahuriorangi before crossing for his side’s second try. That meant the Brumbies were leading 26-14 and although the final quarter was a frantic affair, as the home side launched several attacks, the Brumbies did well to keep them out with a resilient defensive effort.
Final Score Chiefs 14 (0) Brumbies 26 (19)
Chiefs – 14
Tries – A.Cruden, A.Lienert-Brown
Con – D.McKenzie 2
Brumbies – 26
Tries – T.Banks, S. Kata, P.Samu 2
Con – N.Lolesio 3
Cards – J.Slipper (yellow 52nd minute)
15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Sam McNicol, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Atu Moli, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Aidan Ross
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Reuben O’Neill, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Quinn Tupaea
15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Will Miller, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Murray Douglas, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (c), 2 Connal McInerney, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Toni Pulu
Match Officials and details
Date: Saturday 22 February
Venue: FMG Stadium, Waikato
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: Mike Fraser Assistant Ref 2: Dan Waenga
TMO: Glenn Newman