The Brumbies scored eight tries to claim a 54-17 victory over the Chiefs in Canberra on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The hosts were expected to struggle against their New Zealand opponents, who welcomed back star Damian McKenzie, yet went on to record their first win against the Chiefs since 2014 in style.
Christian Lealiifano was a big reason why, as he won his battle against McKenzie. The Brumbies flyhalf was assisted by playing behind a forward pack that at times made easy metres.
The Chiefs drew first blood in the match, winning a penalty straight from the kick-off, which McKenzie slotted.
The Brumbies were keen to keep ball in hand and found a couple of gaps in the Chiefs’ defence, but just could not make that final pass. The home side did, however, get a breakthrough when some wonderful interchanging between forwards brought them close to the Chiefs tryline, with Tevita Kuridrani muscling over.
That lead was soon doubled when Tom Banks ran a fantastic line on to an inside pass from Lealiifano to go in untouched.
After defending a short Chiefs attack, the Brumbies got their third of the night when Lealiifano broke the line from a quick-tap scrum penalty and fed Chance Peni, who scored in the corner.
There was a response from the Chiefs, as after their first real period of sustained pressure, wing Ataata Moeakiola stepped past his tackler to dot down and reduce the lead to 11 points.
That joy was short-lived as No 8 Lachlan McCaffrey tore away from a strong 5m scrum and managed to ground the ball on the line for the bonus-point try.
After the half-time hooter, Folau Fainga’a was the beneficiary of a powerful driving maul to see the Brumbies go into the break 23 points ahead.
The Chiefs came out with renewed intensity and started to win the scrum battle. However, they failed to turn this into points and were immediately punished as the Brumbies went end-to-end from a scrum near their own line, with Lealiifano popping up twice in the movement, and Peni finishing things off for his brace.
After another massive effort on attack, the Chiefs finally managed another breakthrough when replacement hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho drove over the line.
But that was to be all the Chiefs got from the game as the Brumbies added a further maul try through Josh Mann-Rea, before Kuridrani went over for his second to round off a memorable evening for the hosts.
Brumbies – Tries: Tevita Kuridrani (2), Tom Banks, Chance Peni (2), Lachlan McCaffrey, Folau Fainga’a, Josh Mann-Rea. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (5), Wharenui Hawera (2).
Chiefs – Tries: Ataata Moeakiola, Samisoni Taukei’aho. Conversions: Damian McKenzie (2). Penalty: McKenzie
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Chance Peni, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Christian Lealiifano (c), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Peter Samu, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Tom Wright.
Chiefs – 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Ataata Moeakiola, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Tyler Ardron, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Michael Allardice, 4 Brodie Retallick (c), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Aidan Ross.
Subs: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Tevita Mafileo, 18 Sefo Kautai, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Orbyn Leger, 23 Bailyn Sullivan.
Photo: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images