Two tries to both Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani have handed the UC Brumbies a bonus point win over the Chiefs on Friday as the ACT remembered the Anzacs at GIO Stadium.
Two-up, Victoria Cross recipients and more than 16,000 UC Brumbies fans set the tone for an electric game of rugby, pitched against the last two seasons’ best teams.
The hype had been built all week surrounding a Super Rugby Final rematch and did not disappoint, with seven tries registered including six in the second half.
While Toomua was eventually named Man of the Match after a commanding display in the No.10 jersey, there were plenty of standout performers as the side stamped its authority. Joe Tomane had another cracker, the set piece, under the guidance of Ben Mowen, Ben Alexander and Stephen Moore was outstanding and Scott Fardy did not stop working.
Nic White was busy at scrumhalf while Robbie Coleman continues to stick his hand in the air for higher honours.
Director of Rugby Laurie Fisher said it was a complete performance.
“It certainly doesn’t make up for last year, but it was a really pleasing performance for us in terms of work ethic, putting our head over the ball, strong carries and being clinical around tackle contests and around break down against a quality, physical team,” Fisher said.
“They’re a very good team from broken play. Good feet and inside balls, they keep it alive with a lot of offloads but I feel that we defended that area of the game very well.”
Christian Lealiifano and Gareth Anscombe traded penalties for the first quarter with the Chiefs holding a three-point margin, 6-3 up until the 30 minute mark.
But the UC Brumbies managed to build momentum late in the half, eventually breaking the Chiefs from close range when Matt Toomua reached out to score.
The conversion from Lealiifano was successful, and when the inside-centre added another three off the boot the UC Brumbies had the lead for half-time sewn up, 13-6.
Anscombe again closed the gap with a penalty to open the second half, but celebrations were short lived for the Chiefs as Joe Tomane performed his usual acrobatic display in the right corner to score his second try in two weeks.
The conversion was away, but the UC Brumbies were out to an 18-9 lead with just over half an hour to play.
Tomane’s try sparked the Chiefs to life and they mounted a series of attacks from all over the park. The visitors launched the same intensity into their defence, with James Lowe taking it one step too far when he tripped Tomane in open space.
Lowe was yellow carded and UC Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White was able to convert the opportunity into points, the home side moving out to a 21-9 point lead with after 55 minutes.
Kuridrani added more pain to the Chiefs just two minutes later, the UC Brumbies shifting the ball quickly after a huge driving maul pushed them into attacking territory.
He was in again just four minutes later, this time in the opposite corner and the UC Brumbies were running home.
The Chiefs claimed two consolation tries late in the piece, but it was Toomua who stole the show, capitalising on an intercept from Ruan Smith to claim his first brace of tries and hand the UC Brumbies a comfortable 41-23 victory.
UC Brumbies 41 (Toomua 2, Kuridrani 2, Tomane tries; Lealiifano, White con; Lealiifano 2, White 2 pens) bt Chiefs 23 (Weber, Hohneck tries; Horrell 2 cons; Anscombe 3 pens) at GIO Stadium, Canberra. Referee: Steve Walsh. Crowd: 16,159.
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. Scott Fardy
5. Sam Carter (replaced by Jack Whetton)
6. Jordan Smiler (replaced by Tom McVerry)
7. Jarrad Butler
8. Ben Mowen ©
9. Nic White (replaced by Michael Dowsett)
10. Matt Toomua
11. Robbie Coleman (replaced by Andrew Smith)
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Joe Tomane
15. Jesse Mogg (replaced by Pat McCabe)
16. Josh Mann-Rea
17. Ruan Smith
18. JP Smith
19. Jack Whetton
20. Tom McVerry
21. Michael Dowsett
22. Andrew Smith
23. Pat McCabe