Brumbies pull off miracle win in Pretoria

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Brumbies have clinched an unlikely 38-28 win in Pretoria, despite being a man down for the final 18 minutes.

Hooker Folau Faingaa was sent off in the 62nd minute for headbutting, the Brumbies' second send-off in as many weeks, putting them in a precarious spot.

With the Brumbies trailing by a point, Faingaa dove into a ruck from the side, without arms, already conceding a penalty before getting into a dispute with his Bulls opponent and headbutting him.

Though it was far from a violent act, it was a brain fade from Faingaa that  threatened to unpick the Brumbies’ hard work.

However, it proved the opposite of that, with the Brumbies dominating the final stages, with two tries in four minutes giving them a remarkable victory, their first in six matches.

It was an ominous start from the Bulls, when Handre Pollard slipped through the Brumbies’ defences in the fifth minute, to score an easy opening try.


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The Brumbies responded in the best way, though, with Kyle Godwin surprising his opponents and scoring a reply for the ACT side off the restart.

Flanker David Pocock pounced on a loose Bulls pass and spotted Godwin on the outside, sending a long pass to his centre to run through the defensive line.

Christian Lealiifano was left to rue a missed early penalty chance, but his second shot in front of the sticks was easily converted.

Poor decisions meant it was the Bulls who scored the next try, through Roelof Smit, to put the hosts on the front foot.

It was an arm wrestle the rest of the first half, but the Brumbies fought hard to ensure they didn’t concede any more points before the break.

It was the perfect start for the Brumbies after the break, with Lachie McCaffrey diving over just three minutes into the second half, with a smart Pocock run off a lineout sparking the passage.

An unlucky scrum penalty gave the Bulls another shot at points, squaring up the scores with half an hour to go.

The Brumbies’ good work was unravelled by Bulls winger John-Ben Kotze, putting the hosts at a five-point advantage, before a Handre Pollard penalty made that eight.

A pick and go Faingaa try turned that into a one-point margin, but he went from hero to zero with his red card, that gave Pollard a chance to stretch the gap.

Fullback Tom Banks lit up the stadium and capped off an impressive performance, streaking out of the Bulls’ grasps to score and put the Brumbies in front with eight minutes to go.

When Andy Muirhead went over two minutes later, as the Brumbies refused to play like a team missing a man, the result was all but put out of doubt, giving the visitors a shock victory.


Bulls 28

Tries: Pollard, Smit, Kotze

Cons: Pollard 2

Pens: Pollard 3

Brumbies 38

Tries: Godwin, McCaffrey, Faingaa, Banks, Muirhead

Cons: Lealiifano 3, Hawera 2

Pens: Lealiifano