The Brumbies pummeled the Sharks 38-13 in Canberra on Saturday to set up a semi-final showdown with the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The semi-final schedule has now been confirmed. The Crusaders will host the Hurricanes in Christchurch, while the Brumbies will travel to Argentina to take on the Jaguares.
The Vodacom Bulls pushed the Hurricanes close in Wellington on Saturday. If one or two decisions had gone their way in the dying stages, they may have claimed a historic playoff win in New Zealand.
The Bulls did South African rugby proud. The Sharks, by contrast, lacked the necessary aggression and composure to challenge their playoff opponents.
The Brumbies punished the Sharks’ poor defence in the opening quarter. Pete Samu took an inside ball from Rory Arnold and raced away to score under the posts.
Moments later, Tom Banks ghosted through another gap around the ruck. The movement climaxed with Henry Speight splashing over in the right-hand corner.
#SuperRugby – HALFTIME:
Brumbies 24-6 Sharks
The hosts have run in three tries to take a commanding lead into the break.
— SuperSport🏏 (@SuperSportTV) June 22, 2019
The Brumbies kept their foot on the pedal. The forwards mauled their way through the Sharks defence, and Samu scored his second try of the evening.
Curwin Bosch kicked two penalties during this period. At no time did the Sharks look like threatening the Brumbies’ tryline.
The hosts went into the break with a 24-6 lead. All the momentum was with the Brumbies heading into the second stanza.
The Sharks were more competitive in the next 40 minutes. Perhaps the Brumbies had already started to think ahead to next week’s semi-final in Buenos Aires. The hosts released the pressure to give the visitors an opportunity to hit back.
Andre Esterhuizen powered his way through the defence to earn the Sharks their first try. It took nearly 57 minutes for the visitors to cross the line, though.
The Brumbies managed to regain the initiative and finish with a flourish. No 9 Joe Powell punched through the Sharks defence to score, while reserve scrumhalf Matt Lucas claimed the hosts’ fifth try in the dying moments.
Brumbies – Tries: Pete Samu (2), Henry Speight, Joe Powell, Matt Lucas. Conversions: Christian Leali’ifano (5). Penalty: Leali’ifano.
Sharks – Try: Andre Esterhuizen. Conversion: Curwin Bosch. Penalties: Bosch (2).
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 James Slipper, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Jahrome Brown, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Tom Wright.
Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (c), 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Mzamo Majola.
Subs: 16 Cullen Collopy, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Luke Stringer, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Rhyno Smith.
Photo: Matt King/Getty Images