Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani shone for the Brumbies with a hat trick for the Canberra side in their 52-38 win over the Rebels in their opening 2019 trial.
The Brumbies showed some spark in front of a strong Viking Park crowd on their way to a solid victory on home turf.
The Super Rugby warm-up proved a valuable lesson for both outfits and both sides could take positives from a high-scoring encounter.
Kuridrani was the clear standout, scoring three tries in the opening half hour in his first match since July last year, when he suffered a pectoral tear against the Waratahs in the final round of the 2018 Super Rugby season.
TRIPLE TREAT!— Plus500 Brumbies (@BrumbiesRugby) January 26, 2019
It's that man again! On the end of every move this evening, Tevita Kuridrani claims his, and the Plus500 Brumbies third try of the match. Hawera converts and Brumbies lead 19-12.#BrumbiesFamily#Plus500 pic.twitter.com/xqsu9cxFEO
Brumbies prop James Slipper was busy in his first clash for his new team but Rebels fans will have to wait to see high-profile recruit Quade Cooper in action after the newly-signed 10 was a late out with a sore knee.
The sense of rust from both teams combined with 40-degree heat and a match of rolling subs meant there were few outside Kuridrani who really stood out above the rest but Rebels lock Matt Philip and Brumbies backrower Tom Cusack both performed strongly.
Rebels coach Dave Wessels said Cooper's late withdrawal was a precaution more than any real concern.
“Quade got a bump on the knee during training towards the back end of the week and he’s just got a bit of fluid on the knee,” Wessels said.
“He probably could have played to be honest, but I don’t want him to miss training next week.”
Eighty-six Test prop Slipper saw out 45 minutes and Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said he made a huge impact for the home side in his club debut.
“He was busy, wasn’t he?,” McKellar said.
“I thought he scrummaged really well and his involvements round the park (were strong).
HALF-CENTURY AS MUIRHEAD SCORES— Plus500 Brumbies (@BrumbiesRugby) January 26, 2019
Fifty-up for the Plus500 Brumbies as Andy Muirhead canters over. Noah Lolesio adds the extras and the score moves on to 52-33.#BrumbiesFamily#Plus500 pic.twitter.com/e3FUhBy4It
“He got 45 minutes of football on board and he’s ready to go again on Monday.”
With a host of Wallabies still to return for both the Rebels and the Brumbies, Wessels was quick to play down the significance of the final scoreline.
“I don’t think the result is really the point of these games," he said.
What we want to do is see some of the things we’ve been working on in practice, and see whether they actually do work in a live game so we’re pretty pleased with that.
“We’re pleased with some of those things but to be honest we’ve still got a huge amount of work do.”
The Rebels play the Reds in Ballarat in their next trial on Friday February 1, while the Brumbies take on the Waratahs in Goulburn on February 7.
Click here for the full 2019 Super Rugby fixture.