Brumbies seal Aus conference
Brumbies seal Aus conferenceSHARE
The Brumbies have effectively secured first place in the Australian conference and a spot in the play-offs with an emphatic 39-17 demolition of the Rebels in Canberra on Friday.
The six tries to two bonus-point win also saw the Brumbies claim first place on the global standings, with the tournament now moving into a three-week break to accommodate the June internationals.
Missing five current Wallabies, the Brumbies moved five points clear of their nearest conference rivals, the Reds, with one match left to play before next month's play-offs.
The Reds still have a mathematical chance of catching the Brumbies in the Aussie conference, but then they have to beat the Waratahs by more than 100 points in their last match in Sydney next month and hope that the Brumbies do not get a bonus point or win when they play the Western Force in Perth.
The Brumbies shook off their first-half lethargy to storm away from the Rebels after leading 10-3 at half-time, to score four second-half tries and win convincingly.
It is the first time the Brumbies have qualified for the Super Rugby finals since winning the Southern Hemisphere provincial series in 2004.
Wallaby wing Clyde Rathbone scored a brace of tries with other tries from Scott Sio, Henry Speight, Colby Faingaa and Zack Holmes.
Replacement scrumhalf Ian Prior kicked three conversions and fullback Jesse Mogg a long-range penalty.
Stand-in captain and Wallabies hopeful Nic White left the field in the ninth minute clutching his shoulder as Wallaby coach Robbie Deans looked on ahead of naming Tuesday's final Test squad to face the British and Irish Lions.
The Rebels, without their two Wallabies James O'Connor and Nick Phipps and sidelined injured forwards Scott Higginbotham, Hugh Pyle and Jarrod Saffy, closed to 10-13 after a try by wing Tom English against the run of play.
But the Brumbies hit back with four consecutive tries to seize control of the match and clinch a four-try bonus point.
"I know that we are proud of winning the conference and we get into the playoffs for the first time in a long time but our coaching staff are really proud with the way the bench and those who haven't had a chance for a long time, really stood up and took their chance tonight," Brumbies coach Jake White said.
"We knew it was about preparation going into this game and this group has been together for two years and as soon as they lifted their intensity and started some go-forward we got some pay."
There are only two Australian-only matches this weekend as New Zealand and South African teams have a three-week break during the June Test window.
Man of the match: The Brumbies, after a sluggish start, lifted their tempo and intensity in the second half – with players like Jesse Mogg, Matt Toomua, Colby Faingaa and Scott Fardy very prominent. However, our award goes to Brumbies No.8 Peter Kimlin – who was the spark that saw the Canberra-based outfit race clear.
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Sio, Rathbone 2, Speight, Faingaa, Holmes
Cons: Prior 3
For the Melbourne Rebels:
Tries: English, Alo-Emile
Cons: Woodward 2
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White (captain), 8 Peter Kimlin, 7 Colby Faingaa, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Leon Power, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Siliva Siliva, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Zack Holmes.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom English, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Lachlan Mitchell, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Gareth Delve (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 James King, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 James Hilgendorf, 22 Kimami Sitauti.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Matt O'Brien (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)