VIDEO: Brumbies knock over struggling Lions
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Lions got their Australasian tour off to a poor start with a 20-31 defeat to the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
The Lions featured in the past three Super Rugby deciders but it was the Brumbies who looked like title contenders on Saturday after taking their chances in the eight-try contest.
The Brumbies’ third win from eight games keeps them within touching distance in the Australian conference, but still seven points behind the leading Melbourne Rebels.
Wallabies star David Pocock was a late scratching but the ACT men muscled up without him against a physical Lions forward pack in front of 7 541 fans.
Brumbies livewire fullback Tom Banks returned to form with a stellar performance, while former NRL player Tom Wright overcame an early yellow card to score in his first start.
Wright was sin-binned for a tip-tackle after four minutes and the Lions made them pay when Springboks flyhalf Elton Jantjies switched play nicely and put Aphiwe Dyantyi into the corner for the opening try.
The Brumbies wasted several opportunities in a frustrating opening 20 minutes before Banks burst through a gap and Lachy McCaffrey finished the job to score from close range.
A knock-on from the ensuing kick-off gifted momentum straight back to the Lions and Jantjies converted a scrum penalty for an 8-7 lead.
McCaffrey threw an audacious cut-out pass to one of the fastest men in Super Rugby, Toni Pulu, who raced 25 metres down the sideline to score on 26 minutes.
The Lions looked set to pinch the lead back before half-time only for Brumbies hooker Folau Faingaa to pounce on a dropped ball and boot it 50 metres downfield.
After a strong chase, the Brumbies won the ruck before Wright sent the ball blind for Tevita Kuridrani to score his 25th career try for a 19-8 lead at the break.
The Lions came storming back out of the blocks and Janjties swooped on a loose ball to score and make it 19-15 after 45 minutes.
Banks responded with a nice jink back inside to score and stretch the lead on 54 minutes before Wright dummied his way through and scored another moments later.
The sea-sawing contest continued when Sylvian Mahuza crossed but the Brumbies held their nerve for the final 10 minutes.
The Brumbies head next to South Africa to play the Stormers and the Jaguares in Argentina.
The Lions will next face Chiefs next weekend before finishing their tour against Crusaders.
Man of the match: Tom Wright proved what an asset he is in that midfield, while Lachlan McCaffrey was the pick of the forwards. However, the award goes to Tom Banks who was exceptional with ball in hand out wide.
Tries: McCaffrey, Pulu, Kuridrani, Banks, Wright
Cons: Lealiifano 3
Tries: Dyantyi, Jantjies, Mahuza
Yellow card: Tom Wright (Brumbies, 5 – dangerous play, tip tackle)
LIVE: Brumbies v Lions
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Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Tom Wright, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Pete Samu, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 James Slipper, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Jahrome Brown, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Irae Simone, 23 Andy Muirhead
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Franco Naude, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Stephan Lewies, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Nathan McBeth.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Gianni Lombard, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: James Leckie (Australia
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