Larkham happy with sparks from scraps

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

There was no lack of precision as the Brumbies took a 52-10 win over the Hurricanes on Friday night but it was the messier parts of the game that most pleased coach Stephen Larkham.

In their biggest win over the Wellington side in the club’s history, the Brumbies laid on seven tries to one, easily nailing down the first winning Super Rugby bonus point under the new format.

While the Brumbies’ focus on allowing their backs more freedom led to some tidy attacking passages, Larkham said it was the untidy parts that pleased him most.

“The Hurricanes are typically a team that plays really well in messy games and I thought tonight we matched it with them,” he told reporters post-match.

“Another pleasing aspect that there was a bit of precision out there but there was also a little bit of spark and the ball was bouncing around.”

The Brumbies set piece still looked menacing, with two rolling maul tries, and after a challenging start their forwards eked out dominance in the scrum.

That ascendency was a major boost for starting loosehead Allan Alaalatoa, starting ahead of Wallabies prop Scott Sio.

It was an impressive night for their front row, with 150-cap milestone man Stephen Moore scoring a try, while Leslie Leula’iali’i-Makin made his Super Rugby debut.

“We struggled in the first couple of scrums just trying to find the rhythm of the referee but after that it was a dominant scrum throughout the first half and the whole front row changed in that second half and they still maintained that dominance,” Larkham said.

“Credit to those guys coming off the bench, I know the experience guys stepped up but you’d have to say that everyone had a fantastic performance tonight.”

After holding out the Hurricanes in the opening minutes, the Brumbies pounced on their first opportunity to score, through Tevita Kuridrani and there were few chances that slipped through the Brumbies’ fingers from then on.

Co-captain Christian Lealiifano said that was the most pleasing thing in the season opener.

"At times, I think we had to find whatever opportunity we could to attack,” he said.

“When you get a little sniff a quality side can make the most of it. I felt like our team did that tonight.”

It was an emotion-ridden night for Fijian pair Kuridrani and Henry Speight, who have been working to help raise funds for the Cyclone Winston relief effort both at the game and after.

Volunteers at the game, representing the Fiji High Commission of Australia, collected $13,500 in donations.

Kuridrani and Speight are auctioning off their winning jerseys, while a number of Brumbies players have also donated kit to the efforts.

The Brumbies made it through the match unscathed, with Larkham dismissing concerns over a possible knee injury to Rory Arnold.