The Brumbies continued their fine start to the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season with a 39-26 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra on Friday. DYLAN JACK reports.
Coming off a stunning loss to a rag-tag Sunwolves side in round one, the Rebels would have been eager to bounce back as quickly as possible, but it looks like they are in for a long year, as they were put to the sword in the opening 20 minutes at the GIO stadium.
It is surprising how poor the Rebels have been in the first couple of rounds, given the fact they do have Wallaby internationals across the park. Individual brilliance aside, the Rebels just seem to make bad decisions at crucial moments, both on attack and defence.
Instead, it is the Brumbies who have taken control in Australia. Two wins out of two and eight points for Dan McKellar’s side has given them daylight at the top of the conference, with the Reds and Waratahs – still waiting for their first wins – in action on Saturday.
Set-piece woes aside (the Brumbies conceded more than their fair share of scrum penalties in the match), McKellar will be pleased with how his side has started the season. There will be a bit of frustration that they let the bonus-point slip, as Rebels scrumhalf Frank Lomani scored a late try to narrow the deficit.
A point of interest in this game was the duel between fullbacks Tom Banks and Dane Haylett-Petty, who are both targeting the role for the Wallabies later this year. While Haylett-Petty scored a wonderful try off a quick-tap penalty, it was Banks who looked the far more secure positionally throughout the match. The Rebels captain will face a fight if he wants to keep his place in the Test lineup come the July internationals.
Brumbies – Tries: Irae Simone, Tom Banks, Tom Cusack, Solomone Kata, Folau Fainga’a, Tom Wright. Conversions: Noah Lolesio (3). Drop goal: Lolesio.
Rebels – Tries: Angus Cottrell (2), Dane Haylett-Petty, Frank Lomani. Conversions: Matt Toomua, Frank Loman (2).
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Murray Douglas, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (c), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 James Slipper, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Will Miller, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Andy Muirhead.
Rebels –15 Dane Haylett-Petty (c), 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Andrew Kellaway, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Wells, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Subs: 16 Steve Misa, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Richard Hardwick, 22 Ryan Louwrens, 23 Campbell Magnay.
Photo: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images