Second-half shut-out in Melbourne
The Brumbies lived up to their pre-season billing as one of the fancied Australian sides, when they beat the Rebels 30-13 in Melbourne on Friday.
As they did last week when they kept the Reds scoreless after the break, the Brumbies started slow and continued to build - especially after the break, when they turned the screws.
While the Rebels held a one-point (13-12) lead at the break, the Brumbies showed them how to close out a match with a clinical second half - scoring 18 unanswered points.
It was the effort of their forwards, who shut the Rebels out, that laid the platform for a convincing win.
Both teams showed plenty of energy, but their options and execution were certainly not always up to the expected standards.
The Rebels had injury setbacks, to James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale in quick succession - with Beale staying on after medics attended to his shoulder, but making no impact on the game and looking worse for wear, while O'Connor failed to come back on the field after being forced off to undergo a concussion test.
They will be sweating the fitness of these two key players this coming week.
Sublime! That is the only way to describe the opening score - when the Brumbies went wide from a quick counter from deep inside their own and Jesse Mogg kicked ahead, raced past the cover and touched down. It did go up to the TMO, but he had no hesitation in awarding the score.
The Rebels also played an expansive game - or at least they attempted to, as their execution just wasn't up to par in the early stages - but it was a James O'Connor penalty that opened their account.
The home team's first try also required the TMO to have a look and when he ruled that it was 'inconclusive', after the referee asked about a possible knock-on and obstruction, the try was awarded to Scott Higginbotham - who ran up in support of O'Connor.
Some questionable penalties against the Brumbies gave the Rebels a number of opportunities - O'Connor missing one shot at goal, before they opted for an attacking line-out with another. That also turned into a penalty and a warning, with O'Connor slotting this one for a 13-7.
The Brumbies hit back straight away and in the best way possible - Jesse Mogg the creator of another class try, scored by Clyde Rathbone. Mogg, running a great angle, broke a tackle or two and then a quick recycle and great hands created the space for Rathbone out wide.
The conversion attempt, from the touchline, was wide - leaving the Rebels with a one-point (13-12) lead.
The Brumbies had a couple of penalties inside the Rebels 22 in the final minutes of the half, but they opted for scrums and butchered three points - leaving the Rebels in the lead at the break.
Four minutes after the break the Brumbies had the lead back - Lealiifano kicking a penalty, awarded to them after a breakdown call that finally went their way.
Lealiifano added a second penalty to give his team a five-point (18-13) lead with just over a quarter of the match to go.
Ben Mowen scored next, collecting a favourable bounce after Matt Toomua put up a high bomb, with Lealiifano adding the conversion for a 25-13 lead.
It got worse for the Rebels, who lost replacement forward Jarrod Saffy to a yellow card with just over 10 minutes left on the clock - after he committed a professional foul at the breakdown and the referee's patience finally ran out with the illegal tactics of the home team.
Robbie Coleman got the bonus-point try with just over five minutes left on the clock, after the Brumbies took the ball through numerous phases and worked the extra man out wide - a missed conversion making it 30-13.
That is how it stayed, even though the Rebels rallied late in the game in the hope of a consolation score.
However, the Brumbies maintained their record of not having conceded a single second-half point this season.
Man of the match: The Rebels relied heavily on playmakers James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale. Two of the Brumbies' veteran forwards - prop Ben Alexander and hooker Stephen Moore - were involved in most of their plays in the close exchanges. However, our award goes to Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg - for all his creative skills, powerful running and raking kicks downfield.
For the Rebels:
Pens: O'Connor 2
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Mogg, Rathbone, Mowen, Coleman
Cons: Lealiifano 2
Pens: Lealiifano 2
Yellow card: Jarrod Saffy (Rebels, 69 - professional foul, killing the ball at the tackle)
Rebels: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Richard Kingi, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Cadeyrn Neville, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Alex Rokobaro, 22 Tom English.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 David Pocock, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Tevita Kuridrani.
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Ian Smith (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)