McInerney hat-trick sees Brumbies roll over Sunwolves for bonus point win in Tokyo

Super Rugby
by Iain Payten

The Brumbies have taken a giant stride towards winning the Australian conference title by beating the Sunwolves with a bonus-point 42-19 win in Tokyo.

Reserve hooker Connal McInerney bagged a rare hat-trick coming off the bench in the second half to extend a 21-12 lead at oranges and put the result beyond doubt.

The Sunwolves never gave up and kept fighting through the elusive running of electric fullback Semisi Masiwera, but armed with a dominant set-piece, the Brumbies never allowed the game to get out of their control.

The win sees the Brumbies push five points ahead of the Rebels, with NSW and the Reds left to play. The Rebels have the Crusaders and the Highlanders.

On a hot day, poor discipline from the Sunwolves allowed the Brumbies to keep kicking into the corner, setting their maul strongly and sending McInerney over the line.

The Sunwolves scored inside the first minute but the Brumbies settled into the game and scored the next three tries, through Pete Samu, Irae Simone and Tom Banks.

Banks' try was a pearler that saw Christian Lealiifano cross kick for Henry Speight, who in turn found Tevita Kuridrani and one-last offload to the fullback in support.

Continuing his tackle-shedding form this year, Masiwera managed to claw one back for the hosts with a special solo effort just before halftime that saw him beat three defenders.

After the break, the Brumbies attempted to control possession and take the pace out of the game, to deny the helter-skelter tempo in which the Sunwolves thrive.

McInerney, who came on for Folau Faingaa, was on the tail on a strong rolling maul for the first time in the 49th minute.

Masiwera again counter-punched though, with another three defenders left trailing and he set up Jamie Booth for a try.

The score went to 28-19 and while the Brumbies didn't look particularly under threat as far as a four-point win went, there was now major doubt about a 5-pointer.

The Brumbies' bench flexed it's muscles though, and keeping the hosts pinned in their half for the last half-hour, they turned to the maul a few more times and scored another two tries through their reserve hooker.

McInerney was just the fifth player in Super Rugby history to score three tries after coming off the bench.

"It was nice to get the win but we had to work really, really hard for it," said Lealiifano. 

"They are a fantastic team the Sunwolves and they put us under a lot of pressure as well. We had to find different ways to get some momentum back and I thought our forwards were amazing today, putting in a big shift."

RESULT

BRUMBIES 42

Tries: McInerney (3), Samu, Simone, Banks.

Cons: Lealiifano 6

SUNWOLVES 19

Tries: Masiwera, Booth Saumaki

Cons: Parker 2

TEAMS

Sunwolves to face Brumbies

1. Alex Woonton

2. Nathan vella

3. Takuma Asahara

4. Mark Abbott

5. Tom Rowe

6. Yoshitaka Tokunaga

7. Dan Pryor

8. Ben Gunter

9. Jamie Booth

10. Hayden Parker

11. Hosea Saumaki

12. Phil Burleigh

13. Jason Emery

14. Gerhard van den Heever

15. Semisi Masirewa

Reserves

16. Jaba Bregvadze

17. Masatak Mikami

18. Conan O'Donnell

19. Yuya Odo

20. Kara Pryor

21. Keisuke Uchida

22. Takuya Yamasawa

23. Timothy Lafaele

Brumbies to face Sunwolves

1. James Slipper

2. Folau Faingaa

3. Allan Alaalatoa

4. Rory Arnold

5. Sam Carter

6. Tom Cusack

7. Jahrome Brown

8. Pete Samu

9. Joe Powell

10. Christian Lealiifano

11. Toni Pulu

12. Irae Simone

13. Tevita Kuridrani

14. Henry Speight

15. Tom Banks

Reserves

16. Connal McInerney

17. Scott Sio

18. Les Makin

19. Darcy Swain

20. Lachlan McCaffrey

21. Rob Valetini

22. Matt Lucas

23. Tom Wright