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Five tries to none, a bonus point and a dynamic debut from man mountain Fotu Auelua highlighted a dominant display by the University of Canberra Brumbies on Saturday night as the home team claimed a 37-6 point win.
Melbourne struggled to match the fast-starting University of Canberra Brumbies, who ran in four tries in the first half to clinch a comfortable win and move to the top of the Australian Conference.
Strong games from Man of the Match Scott Fardy, who scored two tries, Michael Hooper and Christian Lealiifano shaped the win for the home side against a Rebels outfit laden with Wallabies.
The bonus point was sewn up by half-time after skipper Ben Mowen crossed for his first try in Brumbies Rugby colours. And despite claiming more possession in the second half, the Rebels couldn’t claw their way back into the match.
“This time last year we lost to the Rebels but here we are with a bonus point it’s fantastic, we’ll learn as we go on and we need to be more ruthless when we’ve got them under the pump but we’ll take that result,” Head Coach Jake White said.
“The most impressive aspect is that we stopped guys like Beale, O’Connor and Cipriani crossing our try-line. That’s a massive effort when you consider how they’ve attacked other defences in the competition.
“The way that we defended them – full credit to our defensive capabilities. It’s fantastic that we can go to South Africa with confidence and have a good shot at the Bulls.”
After the opening exchange of penalty shots which gave the University of Canberra Brumbies a slender lead 6-3, Pat McCabe claimed the home side’s first try on the back of some heavy pressure mounted from within the Rebels territory.
McCabe hit a Lealiifano short-ball at pace and made his way through some light defence to claim his second try of the year and his third-career five-pointer against the Rebels.
It gave the University of Canberra Brumbies confidence and momentum and with a glut of possession the home team managed to lay on two more tries in the next five minutes to Hooper and Fardy.
With the score out to 23-6 it looked like the University of Canberra Brumbies would claim a bonus point before the break, with rookie Auelua requiring a tough decision from the TMO to say he had knocked the ball on.
Despite the setback, the home side continued to apply pressure and attack the Rebels line before skipper Mowen claimed his first Brumbies try with three minutes left in the half.
The conversion was again successful handing the University of Canberra Brumbies a cushy 30-6 lead going into the break.
The second half started contrary to the first, with the Rebels enjoying possession for the first five minutes. It was just the second time the Rebels had held possession in their opponent’s half with a whopping 83 percent going to the Brumbies in the opening exchange.
Clawing their way into the match, the Rebels managed to stem the flow of points for the opening 28 minutes of the first-half, better controlling their own ball and making the University of Canberra Brumbies work hard to defend their own line.
But their finishing touches lacked finesse, letting them down on several occasion and handing the University of Canberra Brumbies more opportunities to attack.
With 15 minutes left, Joe Tomane had the crowd on its feet with one of his typical freakish runs. Tomane’s chip and chase almost payed off before being hacked down by a flying Kurtley Beale. And while that opportunity didn’t pay off, it wasn’t long until the University of Canberra Brumbies patience and good defence were rewarded with another try to Fardy.
Fardy burst through five defenders to score his second and put the match out of reach for the Melbourne Rebels.
The University of Canberra Brumbies head to South Africa on Monday morning.
UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA BRUMBIES 37 (Scott Fardy 2, Michael Hooper, Pat McCabe, Ben Mowen tries; Christian Lealiifano 3 cons, 2 pens) bt MELBOURNE REBELS 6 (Danny Cipriani, James O'Connor pens) at Canberra Stadium. Referee: Craig Joubert. Crowd: 14,011.
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Ruaidhri Murphy (replaced by Ben Alexander)
2. Stephen Moore
3. Dan Palmer
4. Scott Fardy
5. Sam Carter (replaced by Peter Kimlin)
6. Ben Mowen (replaced by Anthony Hegarty)
7. Michael Hooper
8. Fotu Auelua (replaced by Ita Vaea)
9. Nic White (replaced by Ian Prior)
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Joe Tomane
12. Pat McCabe
13. Tevita Kuridrani (replaced by Andrew Smith)
14. Henry Speight
15. Jesse Mogg (replaced by Robbie Coleman)
16. Anthony Hegarty
17. Ben Alexander
18. Ita Vaea
19. Peter Kimlin
20. Ian Prior
21. Robbie Coleman
22. Andrew Smith