The Brumbies revived their title hopes when they secured a deserved 37-10 victory over the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra on Saturday.
The Brumbies revived their title hopes when they secured a deserved 37-10 victory over the Rebels in Canberra on Saturday.
The two-time champions delivered an impressive and disciplined performance, and outscored the visitors by six tries to one – four of which were scored in the first half.
The win was the Brumbies' first since Round 13 – when they beat the Sharks – after they suffered two defeats to the Cheetahs and Stormers on their recent tour to South Africa.
The Brumbies were on the attack from the kick-off and Matt Toomua scored their first try as early as the fourth minute. Tevita Kuridrani laid the groundwork with a superb break, but when he was stopped, close to the Rebels' try-line, Nic White threw a long pass to Toomua, who powered through a Tom English tackle before scoring in the corner.
The Rebels struck back with a Jason Woodward penalty from the halfway mark, three minutes later, after the Brumbies' front row were penalised for a scrum infringement.
That three-pointer would be the Rebels' only points of the half, however, as the Brumbies were dominant for the rest of the opening period.
In the 13th minute, the home side launched an attack inside the Rebels' 22 which resulted in them scoring their second try. Toomua threw an inside pass to Clyde Rathbone, who was tackled by close to the try-line by Scott Fuglistaller. Despite that tackle, Rathbone had the presence of mind to throw a pass to Pat McCabe who dive over and Christian Lealiifano converted.
Five minutes later, the Brumbies were leading 17-3 after Toomua crossed over for his second, and his team's third, try.
This after Nic White caught the visitors' defence napping, when he broke around the fringe of a ruck, close to the Rebels' 10-metre line. He draw in Jason Woodward but offloaded to Toomua who got in for the easy five-pointer.
The Rebels were struggling with the intensity displayed by their hosts and, especially on defence, they were battling for large periods.
And on the half-hour mark the Brumbies secured their bonus-point try when Scott Sio burrowed his way over from close quarters after Fotu Auelua had done well initially with a powerful run in the build-up.
Lealiifano was struggling from the kicking tee and missed the conversion but slotted his side's only penalty, in the 38th minute, to give the hosts a 25-3 lead at half-time.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first – with the Brumbies on the attack – and White set up his side's fifth try with a superb run in which he beat four defenders. His progress was halted deep inside the Rebels' 22 but, after recycling the ball, the hosts extended their lead when Sam Carter crashed over the try-line and Lealiifano converted.
The Rebels were dead and buried but, to their credit, they didn't give up. The Brumbies were reduced to 14 men in the 67th minute, when Ben Alexander was yellow carded, after a cynical scrummaging infringement close to his try-line.
The Rebels took advantage of their numerical advantage when Scott Higginbotham scored their only try, shortly afterwards, after a period of sustained pressure deep inside the home side's 22.
Woodward added the extras, but there was still time for Leon Power to add the final nail in the visitors' coffin when he got in for the Brumbies' sixth try shortly before the final whistle.
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Toomua 2, McCabe, Sio, Carter, Power
Cons: Lealiifano 2
Yellow card: Alexander
For the Rebels:
Brumbies: 15 Pat McCabe, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Fotu Auelua, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Leon Power, 20 Jordan Smiler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Jesse Mogg
Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Male Sau, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Caderyn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Josh Holmes, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Tom Kingston
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)