Brumbies stun Blues, Reds run rampant
SUNDAY SUPER RUGBY WRAP: The Brumbies have stunned the Blues in the Super Rugby by beating the Kiwi outfit in a closely contested affair by 25-20 in Melbourne on Sunday and the Reds ran rampant in their demolition of the Western Force.
Sunday’s wild encounter in Melbourne brought 45 points in the first half but somehow none in the second, with proceedings tightening up drastically as the Brumbies dug in to take the 25-20 win.
Avenging their 2022 semi-final defeat, Stephen Larkham’s men never trailed but were seriously tested on their way to a statement win that firmed up their case as one of the league’s top sides.
The Brumbies’ rolling maul fired on all cylinders and produced two tries in the first half, with the first – a penalty try – leaving Blues prop James Lay in the sin bin.
He was the second Blue yellow-carded but the two-man disadvantage did little to stop them grinding their way into the game, scoring through Ricki Riccitelli and later via a powerful run from Tom Robinson.
The Blues threatened late but the Brumbies proved equal to the task, with White later saying they’d avoided flashbacks to last year’s heartbreaking 20-19 semi-final loss, and had instead backed their system.
Now 2-0, the Brumbies relied on their set-piece dominance to control the match and had the Blues on the back foot from early on, indicated by them winning a lop-sided penalty count 16-8.
The Brumbies could have led by more at halftime after dictating the play but were plagued by defensive lapses and sub-standard ball security.
The Auckland outfit had the better of the second half but rarely threatened their opponent’s stubborn line, with line-out struggles costing the ACT a chance to secure victory earlier.
The Queensland Reds have signed off Super Round with a record victory over the Western Force, capping a positive weekend for Australian teams.
With all 12 Super Rugby Pacific sides playing at Melbourne’s AAMI Park over three days, the Reds, Waratahs and Brumbies all left as winners while the Rebels had a narrow loss to the Hurricanes.
After a disappointing round one loss to the Chiefs, the Reds started their Sunday afternoon clash with a bang and never looked back.
They scored 10 tries to three to bank a crushing 71-20 win – their biggest score ever in Super Rugby.
Queensland looked to have scored after 30 seconds thanks to a 30-metre break by Jordan Petaia, with the silky fullback gliding through the defence and off-loading to Josh Flook, however the centre put his foot on the sideline.
Queensland fans didn’t have to wait long to celebrate, with two tries scored by the six-minute mark, with lock Ryan Smith first across the tryline.
A minute later Petaia showed off his array of skills, following up his own thumping kicking down-field and collecting the ball to touch down for a try of his own to a 14-0 lead.
The Force, who were round one winners over Melbourne, hit back when winger Zach Kibirige got on the outside of his opposite Suliasi Vunivalu.
While they got on the board again through ex-Brumbies hooker Folau Fainga’a, the Reds pushed the scoreline out to 29-13 by halftime and looked in full control.
With Wallabies coach Eddie Jones watching from the stands No.8 Harry Wilson impressed while Test playmaker James O’Connor looked sharp in his first run of the season.
The second half was one to forget for new Force coach Simon Cron with the Reds piling on the misery, the men from Perth not helped by losing flanker Ollie Callan to a red card for a high tackle.
Among the tryscorers Vunivalu, who made a name for himself on the same ground as a Melbourne Storm NRL player, intercepted a pass and ran 80m to score.
While he managed to touch down he pulled up just before line sparking fears he had re-injured his hamstring.
But it appeared to be only a cramp with the World Cup hopeful playing on.
With the Force down to 13 men, also losing Jackson Pugh to a yellow card for the final minutes, Flook finished with two tries as did winger Felipe Daugunu.
Brumbies 25-20 Blues
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Muirhead, Lonergan, Penalty try
Pens: Lonergan 2
For the Blues:
Tries: Riccitelli, Robinson
Cons: Barrett 2
Pens: Barrett 2
Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Cameron Suafoa, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 James Lay, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Joshua Fusitu’a.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Ofa Tuungafasi, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 James Tucker, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Taufa Funaki, 22 Bryce Heem, 23 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens
Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Tamati Tua, 11 Corey Toole, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 James Slipper
Reserves: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Blake Schoupp, 18 Rhys van Nek, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Nic White, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Ollie Sapsford
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Referees: James Doleman, Angus Mabey
Western Force 20-71 Reds
For Western Force::
Tries: Kibirige, Fainga’a, Pugh
For the Reds:
Tries: Smith, Petaia, Wilson, Flook 2, Faessler, Daugunu 2, Vunivalu, Wright
Cons: Lynagh 5, O’Connor 4
Referee: Paul Williams