The Brumbies scored seven tries in their 41-31 victory over the Sunwolves in Canberra on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Brumbies were hoping to build on their surprise victory against the Bulls in Pretoria and put out a full-strength squad to do just that, despite Rugby Australia asking them to rest their Wallabies.
It was always going to be a tough ask for the Sunwolves to get a win, as they again fielded a weakened side, but they kept the Brumbies under pressure throughout the match and denied them a try-scoring bonus point.
The Brumbies raced into an early 12-0 lead, with first David Pocock driving over from close range and then Lachlan McCaffrey dotting down after Joe Powell broke through and provided him with a good offload.
Hayden Parker got the Sunwolves on the board with a penalty as the visitors started to grow into the game. However, Pocock won a penalty straight from the kickoff, with the Brumbies opting to scrum, from which fullback Tom Banks found space out wide to add a third try.
On the verge of half-time, the visitors hit back when Christian Leali’ifano had a kick charged down with Jason Emery collecting the ball for a try against the run of play, making it a nine-point deficit at the break.
The visitors got the second half off to a storming start, with prop Hencus van Wyk driving over after an initial break from Semisi Masirewa to bring the Sunwolves to within two points.
However, their joy was short-lived as the Brumbies quickly worked their way back into the ascendancy through well-worked tries from Muirhead, Henry Speight and replacement flank Tom Cusack.
The visitors again gave themselves a glimmer of hope as Ed Quirk powered over the line from close range but that was snuffed out when Speight busted through a tackle and sprinted clear for his second.
To their credit, the Sunwolves did not stop playing and grabbed a late try through replacement back Kai Ishii.
Brumbies – Tries: David Pocock, Lachlan McCaffrey, Tom Banks, Andrew Muirhead, Henry Speight (2), Tom Cusack. Conversions: Christian Leali’ifano (2), Wharenui Hawera.
Sunwolves – Tries: Jason Emery, Hencus van Wyk, Edward Quirk, Kai Ishii. Conversions: Hayden Parker (4). Penalty: Hayden Parker.
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Andrew Muirhead, 10 Christian Lealiifano (co-c), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Sam Carter (co-c), 4 Blake Enever, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Connal McInerney, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Andrew Smith.
Sunwolves – 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Sione Teaupa, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 7 Edward Quirk, 6 Willie Britz, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 James Moore, 3 Hencus van Wyk Jiwon Koo, 2 Atsushi Sakate , 1 Craig Millar (c).
Subs: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Nikoloz Khatiashvili, 19 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 20 Fetuani Lautaimi, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Gerhard van den Heever, 23 Kai Ishii.
Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images