Brumbies secure finals spot with Rebels win

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Brumbies will be the only Australian team in the Super Rugby finals this year, after a 32-3 win over the Rebels.

A bonus-point win over the battling, and undermanned, Rebels was all they needed to secure the top spot in the Australian conference and a quarter-final berth.

With that in the bag, they sit 14 points clear of the Waratahs and 16 ahead of the Force, an unassailable margin for either side to mos down with just two matches remaining.

The Rebels' hopes of a second upset in 2017 were dashed for the Melbourne side, who are looking down the barrel of their worst season in history as they head into the June break.

Trading penalties early in slippery conditions, it seemed the Canberra weather might play the most decisive role in the clash.

The Brumbies looked to kick as much as possible, as handling errors crept into both sides, but that wasn’t always executed in its most effective manner.

Chris Alcock was immense for the Brumbies. Photo: Getty ImagesThough they had relied on banking points early, a Henry Speight quick tap set up a chance for Jordan Smiler to score their first try, taking advantage of a major overlap.

The Brumbies put all the pressure on in the opening minutes of the second half after a mixup from the Rebels’ restart.

Tevita Kuridrani’s second effort at the line in four minutes paid dividends for the Brumbies, with the outside centre scoring off a strong scrum.

Rebels winger Marika Koroibete showed glimpses of the reason why Michael Cheika has kept him in Wallabies contention, with a bone-crunching hit on Tom Banks.

Koroibete was a shining light for the Rebels, in defence and attack, with the winger continuing to make strides in his debut Super Rugby season.

Chris Alcock was powerful on the other side, a force in defence for the Brumbies particularly, racking up 21 tackles.

As game went on, the Brumbies only increased their dominance, though handling errors were costly, wit the ball slipping out of Nigel Ah Wong’s hands as they looked to build pressure.

Speight went close to a second in the 70th minute but couldn’t collect a Jarrad Butler grubber, though that came well after the sting had been taken out of the game.

The Brumbies had their final try anyway, with Nigel Ah Wong cleaning up a scrappy passage and secure the win and a finals spot.

They are on a collision course with 2016 champions the Hurricanes with the current competition standings, though their final eight opponents are far from determined in a super-competitive New Zealand conference.

Brumbies captain Sam Carter said it was a no-frills approach that helped them to the win.

"I think just how clinical we were, there were parts of the where we weren’t too fancy, we put our heads down, accumulated pressure and got the points," he said.

Rebels captain Nic Stirzaker cut an exhausted figure after the game, admitting the Brumbies simply outplayed them.

"They were better in every dept across the board, their set piece stood up, they mauled us hard and credit to them," he said.

"We'll regroup (in the break) and work on pretty much everything."

RESULT 

Brumbies 32

Tries: Smiler, Kuridrani, Hawera, Ah Wong

Cons: Hawera 2

Pens: Hawera 2 

Rebels 3

Pens: Hodge

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