The CA Brumbies have recorded their second consecutive home loss, falling to the Bulls 19-7 at Canberra Stadium tonight.
With four first-line stars out of action through injury, the CA Brumbies unveiled several of their ‘Generation Next’ brigade for their clash against the Pretoria-based side. However, the rising stars’ introduction to Super 14 rugby was a frustrating one with their team continually plagued by a stream of dropped ball and forward passes throughout the match.
In contrast, the Bulls were content to keep the ball among their forwards, periodically going to the boot of Fourie du Preez, Derick Hougaard and Johan Roets.
The visitors demonstrated an early intention of taking any points on offer when Hougaard nailed a 43-metre drop goal in the second minute of the match. The Bulls flyhalf also slotted three first-half penalty goals and converted Pedrie Wannenburg’s try, scored off the back of a rolling maul, to give his side a 19-0 lead at the break.
CA Brumbies head coach Laurie Fisher was quick to pay tribute to the Bulls, who have competed in the last two Super Rugby finals series.
“I thought their defence was great, particularly on the back of getting off to a 12-0 start,” he said. “I think that gave them an excellent platform to work on. Their enthusiasm and effort was tremendous, they put numbers through the midfield, they were disciplined in how they came forward and they tackled superbly off the line. So it was certainly a terrific performance by them.”
The CA Brumbies, having been held scoreless for the first half, appeared they would take a 40th minute try into the break when rampaging back-rower Jone Tawake burst onto a short ball and crawled over the line to score. However the Fijian-born flanker was called back and penalised for not releasing the ball.
Five minutes into the second half, CA Brumbies inside centre Gene Fairbanks gave the crowd of 15,101 something to cheer about when he raced on to a perfectly held up George Gregan pass to score under the posts.
Unfortunately it would be the last time the CA Brumbies would breach the Bulls’ try line with each subsequent attacking raid stalling on the back of simple errors.
While Fisher was pleased to see an improved CA Brumbies scum and lineout, he conceded that his side was their own worst enemy.
"The set piece was a lot better but it’s small consolation for what was a pretty poor performance at home,” he said. “By my count we had 16 turnovers through dropped ball and forward passes. Some of that’s unforced errors, some of that’s pressure and good defence. If you don’t sustain any pressure then you’re not going to beat any side.”
One positive for the CA Brumbies was the promising debuts of Francis Fainifo and Anthony Faingaa. Fainifo, who entered the match in the 60th minute, looked dangerous with his first touch in Super 14 rugby while Faingaa showed no ill signs of his limited preparation after being called into the squad this morning following Clyde Rathbone’s late withdrawal due to a knee injury.
Meanwhile, the home side was again served well by prop Nic Henderson who worked tirelessly throughout the match, scrummaging hard against the reputable Bulls’ set piece. 21-year-old Richard Stanford was also impressive late in the game with his straight running off the bench.
In the CA Brumbies backline, George Gregan continued to provide strong service while fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper ignited a number of opportunities for his side after busting the Bulls’ defensive line on several occasions during the match.
The CA Brumbies next match is against the Stormers at Canberra Stadium on Friday.
Bulls 19 (Pedrie Wannenburg try; Derick Hougaard 3 penalty goals, conversion, drop goal) defeated CA Brumbies 7 (Gene Fairbanks try; Julian Huxley conversion) at Canberra Stadium.
Referee: Lyndon Bray
Half time: Bulls 19-0
1. Nic Henderson
2. Jeremy Paul
3. Salesi Ma’afu
4. Adam Wallace-Harrison
5. Mark Chisholm
6. Jone Tawake
7. George Smith ©
8. Stephen Hoiles
9. George Gregan
10. Julian Huxley
11. Mark Gerrard
12. Gene Fairbanks
13. Matt Carraro
14. Peter Playford
15. Adam Ashley-Cooper
16. Saia Faingaa
17. Guy Shepherdson
18. Richard Stanford
19. Julian Salvi
20. Patrick Phibbs
21. Anthony Faingaa
22. Francis Fainifo
6. Jone Tawake replaced by 19. Julian Salvi (blood – 16th minute)
19. Julian Salvi replaced by 6. Jone Tawake (blood return – 26th minute)
3. Salesi Ma’afu replaced by 17. Guy Shepherdson (40th minute)
6. Jone Tawake replaced by 19. Julian Salvi (40th minute)
2. Jeremy Paul replaced by 16. Saia Faingaa (54th minute)
9. George Gregan replaced by 20. Patrick Phibbs (60th minute)
14. Peter Playford replaced by 22. Francis Fainifo (60th minute)
4. Adam Wallace-Harrison replaced by 18. Richard Stanford (68th minute)
13. Matt Carraro replaced by 21. Anthony Faingaa (76th minute)
1. Guthro Steenkamp
2. Gary Botha
3. Danie Thiart
4. Bakkies Botha
5. Victor Matfield ©
6. Danie Rossouw
7. Wikus van Heerden
8. Pedrie Wannenburg
9. Fourie du Preez
10. Derick Hougaard
11. Bryan Habana
12. Wayne Julies
13. JP Nel
14. Jaco van der Westhuyzen
15. Johan Roets
16. Jaco Engels
17. Ruan Vermeulen
18. Anton Leonard
19. Derick Kuun
20. Heinie Adams
21. Morne Steyn
22. Akona Ndungane
Jaco van der Westhuyzen (45th minute)
Super 14 Week Six
CA Brumbies v Stormers at Canberra Stadium
Friday, 9 March, 2007