Brumbies hammer Chiefs in electric Canberra outing

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar couldn't fault his side's 54-17 win over the Chiefs on Saturday but they won't be getting carried away with the big round two victory.

Saturday's win was a performance that Brumbies fans had to wait almost the entire Super Rugby season to see last year with a seamless mix of spectacular attack and efficient set piece.

Two of their tries were from driving mauls and another from the back of a scrum but it was the electricity of a Chance Peni double and a Tom Banks score that really showed the evolution of this Brumbies side.

Their forward play still provided the platform for plenty of their scores but it was the link work of halfback Joe Powell and flyhalf Christian Lealiifano that opened up space for Banks and Peni to add to the highlights reel.

Chance Peni had a double for the Brumbies. Photo: Getty ImagesBy half-time they had 33 points, their highest score in a first 40 since the 2004 Super Rugby final, but a good half wasn't enough to satisfy the Brumbies and rather than wilt under pressure, the hosts stepped things up to score three more tries in the back half of the match.

Their 54 points was just the third time since 2004 that any Australian team has hit the half-century against a New Zealand team and the first time since 2016, when the Brumbies shocked the Hurricanes in the opening round.

McKellar couldn't find any gripes after the dominant performance, speaking post-match.

"I can't complain about anything tonight," he said.

"I thought everyone contributed really well.

"I liked our balance in our game tonight. After one game, we copped a bit of flak about being a team that can only score tries off mauls and the difference tonight was we took our opportunities when we did go wide and really pleased for some of the guys that got their first chance in a while."

Lealiifano turned back the clock in Canberra and McKellar was full of praise for his flyhalf and skipper, who came into the season off a summer in the Japanese Top League.

"I just think "Bruz" is in good shape," he said.

"He's strong, came back from Japan fit and sharp and his running game was outstanding tonight and that's always been his strength."

An early Rory Arnold scoring attempt was disallowed but centre Tevita Kuridrani found pay off their next chance, reaching out to finish off a play that began with the scrum.

Banks had another for the Brumbies just four minutes later, taking a rapid inside pass from Lealiifano and leaving two Chiefs defenders in his dust.

It was another Lealiifano pass that set up the Brumbies’ third three minutes later, this time though the 10 eschewed Banks on his right and put winger Chance Peni over in the left-hand corner.

One piece of sloppy defence allowed Chiefs winger Ataata Moeakiola to slip through for their first, wrong-footing Brumbies centre Irae Simone to find space.

That didn’t seem to slow the Brumbies down, though, relying on their set piece for a fourth try through Lockie McCaffrey in the 37th minute.

Not content with an 18-point lead at half-time, Lealiifano pointed to the corner when they were given a last-minute penalty and their driving maul repaid the faith with Folau Faingaa scoring their fifth of the night.

The Chiefs put on the pressure early in the second half but the Brumbies’ defence stood up, and then the hosts went coast to coast.

Lealiifano again mounted an attack of the Brumbies scrum, throwing an outside pass to Andy Muirhead on the right edge, who managed to just stay inside touch as he offloading to space and the flyhalf scooped up the loose ball.

The Chiefs had a night to forget in Canberra. Photo: Getty ImagesNo. 8 McCaffrey collected Lealiifano’s second pass and popped a long-range throw to Peni who went through.

The Chiefs’ pressure finally managed to yield a score with replacement hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho going over but the Brumbies still held all the momentum.

A chance for a seventh Brumbies score was disallowed due to an apparent offside infringement but Josh Mann-Rea nabbed that score off a driving maul in the 70th minute.

By the time Kuridrani broke through the Chiefs' line to score their eighth of the night the result was well and truly sealed and the Brumbies could truly savour the win. 

The real litmus test for the Brumbies will come next week when they travel to Wellington to take on the Hurricanes and McKellar said  they could draw plenty from this week when it came to readying for the trans-Tasman trip.

"I think we can take a lot of confidence and belief out of tonight and not just tonight, out of the week I think," he said.

"Disappointed last week, really pleased with our leaders in particular in terms of how we turned up on Monday, positive and wanting to turn it around quickly."

The Brumbies take on the Hurricanes next weekend while the Chiefs host the Sunwolves.


Brumbies 54

Tries: Peni 2, Kuridrani 2, Banks, McCaffrey, Faingaa, Mann-Rea

Cons: Lealiifano 5, Hawera 2

Chiefs 17

Tries: Moeakiola, Taukei'aho

Cons: McKenzie

Pens: McKenzie