Tevita Kuridrani's hat-trick haul of tries helped the Brumbies to a 22-10, bonus-point win against the Bulls at GIO Stadium, a crucial win this late in the season.
Following a tight first half, the Brumbies kept the Bulls scoreless in the second half, a great display of defence and perseverance by Dan McKellar's charges, though there was plenty of flash and flare in the performance as well.
A bonus-point victory also consolidates the Brumbies position atop the Australian conference, the side now six points clear of the Rebels in second with three rounds to play, though Melbourne will have a chance to close the gap against the Sunwolves tomorrow.
The Bulls did all their scoring in the first half, capitalising on an early ruck infringement by the Brumbies, Bulls flyhalf Manie Libbok knocking over a simple penalty goal. The early mistake did not deter the Brumbies attack.
Following a line break by Tom Cusack, a smooth backline play put Tevita Kuridrani over in the corner. Lealiifano missed the touchline conversion.
The Brumbies discipline was being tested by the Bulls maul in their red zone. In the 15th minute, Tom Cusack was given a yellow card following repeated maul infringements.
The man advantaged eventually paid dividends for the Bulls, scoring a hard-fought pushover try. Flanker Hanro Leibenberg was the man to dot the ball down. As the first quarter of the game finished it was a tight tussle with both teams showing glimpses of dangerous rugby.
The remaining 20 minutes were as tight as any match could be. Both teams throwing themselves into collisions, and no points to show for their efforts. The frustration began to show, penalties were amassed for both teams and heated altercations between front rows began.
Finally, the point scoring drought was over with Tevita Kuridrani scoring his second try of the night. A typically unstoppable charge by the centre gave Lealiifano the chance to convert and put the Brumbies ahead. The two points were added, and the halftime score was made 12-10.
At the halftime break there was a sense of ascendency for the Brumbies men. Their try scoring ability was on display and the Brumbies crowd was in high hopes for more attacking rugby. It took just four minutes for the Brumbies to score in the second half.
Henry Speight looked to score a replica of last week’s magnificent set piece try, however cover defence caught up to him but he managed a classy offload to Irae Simone who scored the try. The try extended their lead to seven points.
In the 53rd minute the Brumbies forwards efforts at scrum time were rewarded. Pinned on their own five metre line the Brumbies scrum came up with a penalty that was desperately needed.
The night kept getting better and better for Tevita Kuridrani when he secured his hat-trick of tries in the 56th minute. The damaging centre was on the end of some silky backline passing to cross for the third time.
The try pushed the Brumbies lead to 12 points. With the final ten minutes ticking down the game returned to an arm wrestle. Henry Speight nearly sealed the game with a try but couldn’t scoop the ball cleanly from the ground.
The Bulls began to make a resurgence and marched downfield following multiple Brumbies penalties. However, a ruck penalty was secured by the Brumbies on their ten-metre line, keeping the Bulls scoreless in the second half.
Plus500 Brumbies: (12) 22 (T: Kuridrani 3, Simone, C: Lealiifano)
Bulls (10) 10 : (T: Liebenberg, C: Libbok, P: Libbok)