The Plus500 Brumbies have beaten the Auckland Blues 26-21 at GIO Stadium with star hooker, Folau Fainga'a scoring three tries off the back of a dominant Brumbies performance up front.
A further five-pointer to front-row partner James Slipper meant the Brumbies held of the Blues for their fourth win on the bounce at GIO Stadium!
It was quite the slow start to the game as both sides struggled to hold possession. The dew on the ground meant that ball handling was going to a key ingredient to come out victors.
The Blues opened the scoreboard with a quick double punch, as TJ Faiane scored in the corner thanks to a break from Melani Nanai centre field.
Only minutes later, Blues winger Caleb Clarke read the Brumbies backline play well of the back of a scrum and caught an intercept, sprinting 50m and leaving the Brumbies with work to do right from the off.
With a successful conversion from Otere Black, the Blues raced out to a quick 12-0 lead.
As the Brumbies managed to string several phases together they were able to make their way into the Blues half to the delight of the Canberra crowd.
A yellow card to Alex Hodgman for an off the ball shoulder charge on Tom Cusack meant that the Brumbies found themselves 5m from the Blues’ line with ball in hand.
Up steps the forward pack and all eight of them chipped in for an extremely important maul. The Blues couldn’t stop them. Try scoring machine Folau Fainga’a scored in signatory style in the corner.
Henry Speight caught the Blues napping on the right wing and made a break to place the Brumbies back in prime scoring position. Forcing the penalty in front of the posts, the Brumbies backed themselves and elected to scrum instead of taking the points.
And it proved to be the right decision as the backs were able to suck in the Blues defensive line. Speight nearly got through on the right wing only to be stopped by a crunching tackle. This meant that all of the left field was wide open for Irae Simone to weave some magic and find James Slipper who dived over the line.
Not long after, just before half time, the Brumbies received a penalty after the Blues were caught infringing in the ruck. The Brumbies were determined to score a try, electing to kick for the corner instead of taking the easy three points.
Joe Powell was so close to scoring as he was held up over the line leaving the Brumbies trailing 15-12 going into the break.
Coming out from the sheds and beginning the second half, the Brumbies showed great intent. Tom Banks made a pinpoint kick to 5m line off the back of a barging Scott Sio run.
The Blues were given a final warning by the referee due to the side conceding many penalties on their own line. The rolling maul was brought in once again and was collapsed by the Blues forwards. The referee had enough and sent Ofa Tuungafasi to the sin bin.
Finally the Brumbies were able to break through as Fainga’a bagged his second try for the night from the maul, meaning that they were now leading the match for the first time at 19-15.
Not long after the Blues showed what damage they can do with ball in hand. Making up ground quickly and on the receiving end of penalties. Replacement Harry Plummer successfully kicking two penalties handing the lead back to the Blues at 21-19.
Despite now behind, the GIO crowd rallied behind their troops. Getting involved vocally with every scrum and lineout. When blessed with the opportunity for another rolling maul. And who else but Fainga’a to score another famous hat-trick.
And that was enough for the Brumbies take victory for the fourth time in a row at home. Beating the Auckland Blues 26-21.
Brumbies (12) 26 (T: Fainga’a 3, Slipper, C: Lealiifano 3/4, P: )
Blues (15) 21 (T: Faiane, Clarke, C: Black 1/2, P: Black 1/3, Plummer 1/1)
1. James SLIPPER (40’, 17. Scott SIO), 2. Folau FAINGA’A, 3. Allan ALAALATOA (75’, 18. Leslie LEULUAIALII-MAKIN), 4. Rory ARNOLD (18’, 19. Darcy SWAIN, 5. Sam CARTER, 6. Tom CUSACK (60’, 20. Murray DOUGLAS) , 7. Jahrome BROWN, 8. Pete SAMU (80’, 16. Connal MCINERNEY), 9. Joe POWELL, 10. Christian LEALIIFANO, 11. Toni PULU (60’, 23. Andy MUIRHEAD), 12. Irae SIMONE, 13. Len IKITAU, 14. Henry SPEIGHT, 15. Tom BANKS
Unused replacements: 21. Ryan LONERGAN 22. Tom WRIGHT