07 Apr Plus500 Brumbies produce stellar comeback in bonus-point win
The Plus500 Brumbies have completed a remarkable turnaround win against the Reds at GIO Stadium, scoring seven tries on their way to a well deserved 45-21 victory.
Isi Naisarani scored twice on the night with tries from Folau Fainga’a, Chance Peni, Sam Carter and David Pocock and Rory Arnold rounding out the win.
The visitors made the most of their enterprising start by claiming the game’s opening try with some direct play straight up the middle. Centre Chris Feauai-Sautia showed remarkable strength to bust through two tackles and offload to prop Taniela Tupou who collected and fell over the line to score. Jono Lance banged over the extras.
Leading 7-0 the Reds momentum was momentarily stalled by an unfortunate injury to scrumhalf Ben Lucas, but it was a short reprieve for the Brumbies who went further behind to a Lance penalty after eighteen minutes, the flyhalf slotting over from in front of the posts as the Reds completely dominated the opening quarter.
It was a frustrating half for the Brumbies punctuated by myriad errors and turnovers from what scant possession the hosts gained. And it got worse as Feauai-Sautia took an inside pass from Lance to claim the Reds second try.
To compound matters flanker Lachlan McCaffrey was led from the field in the immediate aftermath of the score, replaced by Tom Cusack, after suffering what appeared to be an injury to his elbow. On the back foot, the Brumbies needed a positive response.
To do so they reverted to type. Christian Lealiifano kicked to touch from a penalty and the Brumbies got their rolling maul set to perfection. Taking the line-out, the Brumbies set up the drive and the Reds had no answer, back-pedalling as they were forced over their own line with Folau Fainga’a claiming a first Super Rugby try, Hawera converting.
Lance replied with a streaky penalty to make the score 18-7 but the Brumbies found some groove close to the interval. An extended period of pressure, in which David Pocock was instrumental, ultimately saw Lucas find Isi Naisarani on a bullocking run to cross.
The Reds ended the half a man down when Feauai-Sautia was sent to the sin bin for deliberate knock on before Fainga’a was denied a second try by a millimetre, the TMO adjudging the hooker had simultaneously put his hand in touch when diving over out wide.
There was better news from the TMO in the second half as Naisarani picked up a loose ball after a burst from Blake Enever and found winger Chance Peni who danced inside to reach over and score a crucial try which, after consultation with his associates, the referee finally awarded.
Suddenly, the Brumbies started to roll and Scott Sio made a clean break, offloading to Rory Arnold who pinned back his ears and burst on a 35m run to shake off the cover and claim a sensational try. Lealiifano took over the kicking duties and nailed the conversion to put the home side 24-18 in front.
A James Tuttle penalty reduced the arrears before the Brumbies crossed for the fifth time. From a line-out close to the line, the Brumbies recycled ball and spread it wide where replacement lock Sam Carter crashed through the cover to reach over and score, Lealiifano’s conversion made it 31-21.
That was to be the last of the scoring for the Reds and five minutes later, Co-Captain Sam Carter snuck over for a try on his return to the side. Then in the 70th minute, Naisarani got his second of the game, battering over at the back of a maul. Superstar David Pocock finished off the evening for the Brumbies, driving over for a try that was just the icing on the cake for the home-side. Lealiifano converted all three, the final score 45-21
A night that seemed to be going south for the Brumbies ends in jubilation, a bonus point win for the home side putting them right back into contention in the Australian conference.
The Brumbies will now travel to take on the Highlanders next week, confident in the fact that they have finally found their groove in 2018.
Plus500 Brumbies (12) 45 (T: Fainga’a, Naisarani (2), Peni, Rory Arnold, Carter, Pocock C: Hawera, Lealiifano (5))
Reds (18) 21 (T: Tupou, Feauai-Sautia, C: Lance, P: Lance (2), Tuttle)
1. Scott SIO (17. Faalelei SIONE 77′) , 2. Folau FAINGA’A (16. Robbie ABEL 68’), 3. Allan ALAALATOA (18. Leslie LEULUAIALII-MAKIN 77′), 4. Rory ARNOLD (5. Blake ENEVER 62’), 5. Blake ENEVER (19. Sam CARTER 48’), 6. Lachlan MCCAFFREY (20. Tom CUSACK 24’), 7. David POCOCK, 8. Isi NAISARANI, 9. Matt LUCAS (21. Joe POWELL 50’), 10. Wharenui HAWERA (22. Kyle GODWIN 50’), 11. Chance PENI, 12. Christian LEALIIFANO, 13. Tevita KURIDRANI, 14. James DARGAVILLE (23. James VERITY-AMM 75′), 15. Tom BANKS