Hooker Folau Fainga’a scored a hat-trick as the Brumbies sealed a 26-21 bonus-point win against the Blues in Canberra on Saturday.
It wasn’t the most enjoyable game, especially not when the Brumbies were on the ball. But the teams combined to score six tries in a relatively competitive encounter.
The Blues started off well, opening up a 12-point lead early on. But the Brumbies clawed their way back to stay in the contest before Fainga’a heroics ultimately subjected the Blues to just a second defeat against Australian opposition in 15 matches.
The opening quarter belonged to the Blues as their backs easily opened up the Brumbies defence. This led to tries for outside centre TJ Faiane and wing Caleb Clarke to lead 12-0. That advantage could have been greater, but flyhalf Otere Black left eight points on the field with two missed penalties and a skewed conversion attempt.
The Brumbies hit back with a try double of their own after the Blues were reduced to 14 men following a yellow card transgression by prop Alex Hodgman. But a penalty kick by Black was the difference at the break as the visitors held a slender 15-12 lead.
There was a big momentum shift after the resumption, with the hosts pinning the Blues on their own line. The Blues were unable to see off the onslaught and conceded a second try to Fainga’a, again after the visiting team had to defend with 14. The lead switched hands once more when replacement Harry Plummer kicked the Blues back into the lead with two penalties.
But the Brumbies’ forward dominance ultimately proved the difference as another powerful driving-maul surge towards the line resulted in a third score for the impressive Fainga’a.
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) May 4, 2019
Brumbies – Tries: Folau Fainga’a (3), James Slipper. Conversions: Christian Leali’ifano (3).
Blues – Tries: TJ Faiane, Caleb Clarke. Conversion: Otere Black. Penalties: Black, Harry Plummer (2).
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Tom Cusack, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Faigna’a, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Conor McInerney, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Murray Douglas, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Tom Wright, 23 Andy Muirhead.
Blues – 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 TJ Faiane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock; 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson (c), 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Subs: 16 James Parsons, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Levi Aumua.
Photo: Getty Images