Brumbies too good for Blues
Fri, 04 Apr 2014 10:29
Visitors kept tryless
The Brumbies secured a comprehensive 26-9 win over the Blues in their Super Rugby encounter in Canberra on Friday.
The win - based on a solid kicking game and resolute defence - may well be far more emphatic that the 17-point margin suggests.
Not only does it mean the Blues remain winless on the road this year - in fact they have not won outside New Zealand since 2012 - but the Brumbies also kept the men from Auckland tryless for the first time in years.
The first half was a kick-fest in which the Brumbies' superior kicking game gave them the edge, while a string of penalties - which reached double figures fairly quickly - contributed to the stop-start nature of the opening 40 minutes.
It also didn't help that the set pieces of both teams were a royal mess.
While the scrum penalties went the way of both teams in the first half, the Blues did seem to get an edge after the break.
The Brumbies still relied on their superior kicking game to get them into scoring positions and the Blues struggled to cope with that.
Despite enjoying parity in the possession stakes, the Blues spent almost 60 percent of the time in their own half.
Pat McCabe sparked the Brumbies into action with a superb try in the seventh minute - handling the ball three times and making the final bust that gifted him the game's opening try. Nic White slotted the conversion (7-0).
Simon Hick opened the Blues' account with a ninth-minute penalty and White replied a few minutes later as the home team stayed seven [points ahead - 10-3.
A contentious scrum penalty allowed White to make it a 10-point (13-3) game as the first quarter came to an end.
Right on the half-time hooter Hickey kicked his seconds penalty to narrow the gap to 6-13 at the break.
Hickey also scored the first points of the second half, a penalty after the third Brumbies transgression at the breakdown in quick succession - 9-13.
However, it was McCabe who left his mark on the game again, scoring a great try in the left corner after a brilliant floating pass from Mogg. The conversion was wide, but at 18-9 and with half-an-hour to go the Brumbies at least had some breathing space.
That became 23-9 with just over 20 minutes remaining, after Robbie Coleman rounded of a move that saw some typical quick recycling by the Brumbies - with the scoring pass coming from White to Coleman. White's conversion attempt hit the upright, but at 23-9 the Blues had a mountain to climb.
With just over 10 minutes remaining White - after a transgression by the Blues at a maul - replacement Christian Lealiifano kicked a penalty to make it a 17-point game, 26-9.
The Blues kept hammering away and were denied even a losing bonus point by the resolute Brumbies defence.
Man of the match: Jerome Kaino brought his considerable physicality to the game, while Simon Hickey continued his impressive rise up the Super Rugby rankings. The Kicking games of Jesse Mogg and Nic White gave the Blues plenty of headaches, while Mogg also had a few good runs. However, our award goes to Brumbies midfielder Pat McCabe, who was very influential on attack throughout the game and scored two crucial tries.
For the Brumbies:
Tries: McCabe 2, Coleman
Pens: White 2, Lealiifano
For the Blues:
Pens: Hickey 3
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Siliva Siliva, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaidhri Murphy, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Christian Lealiifano.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 George Moala, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Jerome Kaino (captain), 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Jordan Manihera, 20 Luke Braid, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Francis Saili, 23 Benji Marshall.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referee: Angus Gardner (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
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