The University of Canberra Brumbies have claimed a bonus point, 29-21 win over the Hurricanes in Wellington to reaffirm themselves as genuine contenders in the 2014 Super Rugby tournament.
In the end, the UC Brumbies looked far more cohesive in attack and desperate in defence, allowing them to capitalise on opportunities to drive home a solid win in New Zealand.
Pat McCabe and Jesse Mogg were both outstanding, making ample room through the middle and out wide to keep the UC Brumbies in front and ticking along nicely.
Celebrating his 50th cap, Matt Toomua also had an impressive game, organising the backline to send the UC Brumbies over for three tries within the first 45 minutes.
Nic White was on fire with the boot landing three conversions and a penalty, all from tough angles, keeping the scoreboard in motion.
While the backs finished, it was the forwards who got through most of the tough stuff to put the UC Brumbies in an almost unbeatable position with 20 minutes to play. The line-out was outstanding, while the forwards were constantly disrupting the Hurricanes ball while on the ground and around the ruck.
It moved the UC Brumbies stretch of wins to four over the Hurricanes having not lost to the New Zealanders since 2010.
UC Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen said he was pleased with the result.
“I think we were good in the small moments we had, but we did give them a lot of opportunities which isn’t great against a team like the Hurricanes,” Mowen said.
“Pat [McCabe] was outstanding. To come off the back of last week where we thought he might have had a terrible injury and play like that shows what sort of character he is.
“I thought the forwards worked really hard tonight, the backs worked off that with the pretty stuff but I thought the forwards really stuck their hands up.”
The Hurricanes were first to score, off the boot of Beauden Barrett, who nailed two in the first 20 minutes to give the Hurricanes a six-point lead.
White clawed the UC Brumbies back within three from a wide angle, but the relief was short lived with Barrett busting through the middle leading to a TJ Perenara try.
There were suggestions Corey Jane had stepped out in the lead-up and the slow motion replay seemed to back that up. But it mattered little with Barrett adding the extras, Canes up 13-3.
With 10 minutes to play in the first half, momentum swang in the UC Brumbies favour – Pat McCabe breaking through to run 50 metres and almost score.
While that opportunity didn’t eventuate, Mogg was able to slice through from an ensuing 5m-centre-field scrum to get the UC Brumbies back in with a sniff.
Trailing by 3, the UC Brumbies marched the ball back 80 metres from the kick-off, eventually spinning it wide to Robbie Coleman who scored in the corner. Despite White’s kick hitting the post, the UC Brumbies were able to grab the lead and headed to the sheds 15-13 up.
Spectators barely had time to get back to their seats after half time and the UC Brumbies were in again, this time through Tevita Kuridrani. The kick was over and the UC Brumbies were up 22-13 with 37 minutes to play.
But the Hurricanes weren’t going to let the visitors have it all their way, Barrett kicking 3 more points to edge the home side back within a converted try, 22-16.
The Canes threw everything at the UC Brumbies and for close to 15 minutes it looked like they would score, but for some solid defence which kept them out.
With 10 left on the clock the UC Brumbies made huge inroads down the left side of the field, and after a series of flick passes and off loads from the likes of Lionel Cronje and Scott Fardy, Lochie McCaffrey found himself in space and over the line to give the UC Brumbies a bonus-point try.
The Hurricanes managed a last-minute five-pointer to No.8 Blade Thompson, but it wasn’t enough for to claim a bonus point, the final score 29-21, UC Brumbies winners.
UC Brumbies 29 (Jesse Mogg, Robbie Coleman, Tevita Kuridrani, Lachlan McCaffrey tries; Nic White 3 cons, 1 pen) bt Hurricanes 21 (TJ Perenara, Blade Thompson tries; Beauden Barret 1 con; 3 pens) at Westpac Stadium, Wellington. Referee Craig Joubert.
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Scott Sio (replaced by JP Smith)
2. Stephen Moore (replaced by Josh Mann-Rea)
3. Ben Alexander (replaced by Ruan Smith)
4. Leon Power (replaced by Jordan Smiler)
5. Sam Carter
6. Scott Fardy
7. Jarrad Butler (replaced by Lachlan McCaffrey)
8. Ben Mowen
9. Nic White
10. Matt Toomua (replaced by Lionel Cronje)
11. Robbie Coleman
22. Pat McCabe (replaced by Andrew Smith)
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Jesse Mogg
16. Josh Mann-Rea
17. Ruan Smith
18. Jean-Pierre Smith
19. Jordan Smiler
20. Locky McCaffrey
12. Andrew Smith
21. Conrad Hoffman
23. Lionel Cronje