Planet Rugby

Brumbies stampede past Reds

01st March 2008 10:33

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Stephen Hoiles

Brumbies Blitz: Stephen Hoiles was a try scorer in Canberra

The Brumbies proved there is life after Stephen Larkham and George Gregan after brushing aside the Reds 43-11 in a comprehensive Super 14 victory in Canberra on Saturday.

It was a dominant home performance from Laurie Fisher's troops as they emphatically kept the one-sided history book their own, scoring six tries with stand-in kicker Mark Gerrard claiming an impressive 18-point haul.

The Reds had possibly sensed it was finally to be their time against a side very much in transition, hit with injuries and struggling in the shadow of their departed half-backs - with Larkham suited and keenly surveying from the replacements bench.

And the Japan-bound fly-half was in for a treat as he sat shoulder to shoulder with his smartly dressed but crutched and braced former team-mates.

While last season's fixture in Brisbane witnessed a mere nine points, there was to be no such drought just a season on - despite an early injury to Wallaby Julian Huxley.

The Reds, who have never won in Canberra and have only beaten the Brumbies just once in 13 meetings, received the backing of pre-match pundits who'd mooted that this was their biggest opportunity to claim the spoils against an injury-ravaged opposition.

And they began the clash in imposing fashion with James Horwill galloping through to earn a promising free-kick in midfield.

But worrying scenes subsequently followed for the Brumbies as attempted tackler Huxley was stretchered from the field and taken to hospital with what looked like a serious neck injury.

After a seven-minute stoppage while the hosts' medical team professionally dealt with their man, the game seemingly kicked-off for a second time with nothing given by both sides.

The Brumbies were the brightest out of the blocks this time, which is fair credit to them given the situation, as replacement Peter Playford raced down the right before handing the ball back inside for wing Gerrard to cross for the opener.

But Horwill's ill-discipline compounded the Reds' woes as he failed to enter through the gate in dangerous territory, allowing Gerrard to duly send over three more.

It was then hearts in mouths stuff for the Canberra faithful as Digby Ioane smartly stole possession from Stephen Hoiles and set about racing along the touchline on a counter.

But his chip downfield had the crowd puffing their cheeks as the final bounce dropped into touch, keeping the Brumbies' lead intact.

However, the Reds' hard graft was rewarded when prop Nic Henderson and flank George Smith slipped their binds at scrum time, leaving Clinton Schifcofske his trademark squinted shot at goal.

More niggles followed when Berrick Barnes felt the full force of a Brumby after he was called back for receiving a forward pop pass.

The whistle had already been blown by referee Lyndon Bray before wing Francis Fainifo received a yellow card for picking up the fly-half, tilting and dropping him to the turf eight minutes before half-time.

After the interval, the Brumbies came out firing with Mark Chisholm stretching his legs through a gaping hole five out, which capped an intense period of pressure exerted by George Smith's men.

But it was only to be the start of a Brumbies onslaught as another try swiftly followed with the engine-room man Chisholm completing his brace, brushing off the final tackler as worrying gaps began to open up in the Reds' defence.

From then on, the Reds struggled to cope with their hosts' dominance as the bonus-point try came nine minutes before the final siren, with replacement prop Ben Alexander putting the icing on a clinical team performance.

However, there was some scant consolation as lock Van Humphries burrowed over for the Reds' first try in three years against their rivals.

That only seemed to move the Brumbies up one final gear as scores from Playford and a memorable effort from Hoiles capped a breathtaking finish in Canberra.

Man of the match: Sam Cordingley's absence was exploited to the maximum by Patrick Phibbs. Reds starting scrum-half Will Genia was hauled from the field by Phil Mooney early into the second-half as his opposite number dominated both the Brumbies' pack and anything that came down his channel. A mention for Stephen Hoiles is also deserved as the Brumbies' spine stood up in Canberra.

Moment of the match: If you ever get the sense that today is not going to be your day then the Reds felt that with a thud midway through the first period. Digby Ioane's strong, smuggling ground work on Stephen Hoiles preceded a tough bounce of the ball into touch for the visitors - cruel stuff with Latham certain to gather and score. However, replacement hooker Huia Edmonds' late chip and gather was brother Manny-esque!

Villain of the match: In an evening of fierce collisions between these two Australian rivals, dump tackles seemed to be flavour of the month. Prop Salesi Ma'afu was penalised early in the second-half, but sin-binned Francis Fainifo wins the award for his pick and drop of Berrick Barnes.

The scorers:

For Brumbies:

Tries: Gerrard, Chisholm 2, Alexander, Playford, Hoiles

Cons: Gerrard 5

Pen: Gerrard

For Reds:

Try: Humphries

Pens: Schifcofske 2

Yellow cards: Fainifo (Brumbies) - dangerous tackle, 32; Hynes (Reds) - killing the ball, 68.

Brumbies: 15 Julian Huxley, 14 Mark Gerrard, 13 Sanualio Afeaki, 12 Tyrone Smith, 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Patrick Phibbs, 8 Stephen Hoiles, 7 George Smith (c), 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Nic Henderson.

Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Salesi Ma'afu, 18 Peter Kimlin, 19 Julian Salvi, 20 Joshua Holmes, 21 Peter Playford, 22 Afusipa Taumoepeau.

Reds: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Digby Ioane, 13 Morgan Turinui, 12 Chris Siale, 11 Clinton Schifcofske, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Will Genia, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 David Croft, 6 John Roe (c), 5 James Horwill, 4 Van Humphries, 3 Rodney Blake, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Greg Holmes.

Replacements: 16 Sean Hardman, 17 Dayna Edwards, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 AJ Gilbert, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Peter Hynes, 22 Quade Cooper.

Referee: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand)

Touch judges: James Leckie (Australia), Daniel Cheever (Australia)

Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

Assessor: Andrew Cole (Australia)

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