11 Feb Brumbies Waiting On Global Tens Progression
A last minute try from Robbie Abel, supremely converted by Isaac Thompson, has kept Plus500 Brumbies Brisbane Global Rugby Tens hopes alive on a day of drama at Suncorp Stadium.
Abel snaffled a loose ball from a Bulls line-out to force his way over and cancel out the Bulls score on the half-time siren that threatened to derail the Brumbies, leading his team to a 7-5 success.
The ending showed the remarkable grit and determination of the Brumbies who were playing their third match of an energy sapping day and had played two full games since the Bulls had completed their first fixture of the competition.
Indeed, the Brumbies, along with the Western Force, were the only team to complete three matches on Day One of the competition and, because of the quirk of the cross-over matches in the three-team pools, the two victories recorded may yet not prove enough for progression.
If the Bulls claim a win over the undefeated Highlanders tomorrow then all the teams in Pool C will be level on seven points and, with each having beaten the other in head-to-head match-ups, points differential will come into the equation.
Earlier in the day the Brumbies coughed up two early tries and were left playing catch-up against the Highlanders and, despite a much-improved second half showing, capped by a well-crafted try for Nigel Ah Wong out wide, were edged out by 14 points to 7.
After an almost three-hour break the Brumbies were back on the paddock with Wildcard Andrew Walker rolling back the years with an inspirational display as the Brumbies out-fought French stars Toulon winning 10-0. An even first-half was brightened by a stunning burst from Ben Alexander who showed excellent pace in a kick-chase to the line.
The Brumbies won the ball and, with numbers to the left, shifted it through the hands to allow lock Blake Enever to canter over in the corner. That score gave the Australian side a five-point cushion and they doubled their lead in the second stanza as a set-piece move created room for James Dargaville, running a penetrating line, to scythe through the cover and score.
Disappointingly the Brumbies lost Head Coach Stephen Larkham, who was set to return to the fold, with a calf strain prior to the Toulon clash. Larkham had first been aware of the injury during a training run on Friday evening and was withdrawn from the team list prior to the Toulon match when he failed to complete the warm-up.
“I am disappointed not to be able to compete in the tournament,” Larkham commented. “I had an awareness in my calf at yesterday’s training session and, despite it feeling a little better this morning, the fitness test confirmed I could not play.
“It did give me a good opportunity to focus purely on the coaching for the tournament and allowed me to sit on the sideline and watch my favourite Brumbies player of all time, Andrew Walker, who played wonderfully.”
With a win and a loss under their belts, the clash with the Bulls was to prove pivotal. For long periods, a tired Brumbies side was under the pump and a tournament exit appeared inevitable. However, with Walker again on the field, the Brumbies stole a try through Abel and now must wait and see.
Brumbies 7 (T: Ah Wong, C: Thompson) Highlanders 14
Brumbies 10 (T: Enever, Dargaville) Toulon 0
Brumbies 7 (T: Abel, C: Thompson) Bulls 5