The Brumbies have held off a determined Chiefs side to record a 28-20 victory in Canberra. It was a result that was a little disappointing for the home fans as the failure to secure a bonus point left them frustrated in what seems to be a repeat of previous years.
In what could be best described as a game of two halves, the Brumbies started off the game well and played the majority of the half at the Chiefs end of the field. Early pressure from the home team led to captain Matt Giteau opening the scoring with a penalty goal.
Further pressure led to infringements by the Chiefs putting them on the back foot and this was compounded by a yellow card to prop Nathan White and Giteau slotted another penalty for a 6-0 lead.
With White still in the bin Robbie Coleman, making his starting Super Rugby debut, picked up a loose ball 40 metres out and snuck through a gap and after turning Mils Muliaina inside out and evading other Chiefs defenders dived over to signal his entrance to Super Rugby.
The Chiefs should have scored themselves in the first half but poor handling on at least 3 occasions, including a howler from Tim Nanai-Williams with the line wide open, made it hard for themselves. Their lineout was also in dissaray after losing their own throw at least 5 times, which at Super Rugby level is unforgivable.
The Brumbies showed the Chiefs how to handle the quick ball with a blindside move down the left side finished off by Francis Fainifo in the corner and with 2 tries scored before the half and the score 18-3, things were looking good for the home team and the stats at halftime suggested a run away win would be on the cards for the Brumbies, but games aren’t won on paper.
The second half seemed like it was a new game as the Brumbies dropped their intensity. Chiefs coach Ian Foster had obviously seen enough and dragged 3 players in one go and it appeared it would be the end of the visitors at that point.
This certainly was not the case as quick tries in succession to All Blacks winger Sitiveni Sivivatu followed by a chip and regather from reserve halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow had the home crowd on edge as the momentum begun to swing. The Brumbies scrum also seemed to suffer once Dan Palmer had to leave the field with hip injury.
The majority of the second half was filled with the whislt of Jonathan Kaplan as he clamped down on time wasting by the Chiefs at the scrum which nullified their strength in thet scrum.
The Brumbies weren’t able to get on the front foot for much of the second half and it took a stroke of luck for them to cross the line again in the 71st minute. The Chiefs seemed to have the ball covered but it came loose from the ruck and Salesi Ma’afu came away with the 5 pointer. Giteaus conversion seemed to have put the game out of reach and a bonus point try was within reach.
The last few minutes were a scramble as both teams were trying for a bonus point but Chiefs winger Lelia Masaga had the final say of the night as he ran down the wing and scored to give his side a chance to get within seven points. Tim Nanai-Williams summed up his sides night, as his conversion attempt struck the upright to keep the winning margin at eight.
The winner of this match didn’t come from exceptional play but from whoever would make the least mistakes and both teams were guilty as each other and will need to improve in key areas to be a threat in future games.
Brumbies 28 – Coleman, Fainifo, Ma’afu tries; Giteau 2 cons, 3 pens def Chiefs 20 – Sivivatu, Kerr-Barlow, Masaga tries; Donald con, pen
Put his hand up: Stephen Moore – Solid lineout throwing and held the scrum together well and sucked the Chiefs into some cheap free kicks from Kaplan.
Did himself no favours: Adam Ashley-Cooper – A quiet game by his standards and some unusual handling errors at crucial times.
Bolter watch: Robbie Coleman – Scored a try in his starting debut and not many people can make Muliaina look stupid. Big things are expected from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air Queanbeyan.