Hammered by the Sharks last week, the Lions started their Super Rugby tour Down Under on a losing note, going down 31-20 to the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
The Brumbies outscored the Lions by five tries to three, and while it was a much improved performance by the Lions, they still missed far too many tackles.
Leading 19-8 at the break, the Brumbies took advantage of 15 Lions missed tackles in the first half and 36 overall to prove the more coherent of the two sides.
Who was the star in this match?
After coughing up a yellow card in the fifth minute for a tip tackle on Lions hooker Malcolm Marx, the Brumbies centre Tom Wright was a tower of strength and caused the Lions numerous problems on defence. The manner in which he toyed with the Lions’ tackling to score his team’s fifth try in the 57th minute had class written all over it.
Key moments and themes
- The Lions got on the scoreboard first in the seventh minute through an opening try by wing Aphiwe Dyantyi after flyhalf Elton Jantjies identified the space. Dyantyi still had some work to do and stepped brilliantly off his left foot to catch the hosts on the wrong foot. That, however, proved to be a false dawn.
- Indeed, the rest of the first half dominated by the Brumbies who scored three tries to go into the halftime break with a lead of 19-8.
- At least two of the Brumbies’ tries in the first half came from Lions mistakes. First, wing Ruan Combrinck tried to intercept, allowing left-wing Toni Pulu the space to exploit from one man less in the defensive line. Later, poor awareness by the Lions at the base of a ruck allowed the Brumbies to kick the ball through to put Lions reserve centre Gianni Lombard under all sorts of pressure. They then quickly recycled for centre Tevita Kuridrani to run all over Elton Jantjies, scoring a vital try in the dying minutes of the first half.
- Disconcertingly, the scrums were also very messy for the Lions with both starting props Nathan McBeth and Johannes Jonker being blown up in the opening half for early pushing. They also ended on a low late in the game when a late push for bonus point saw the Brumbies pack destroy their counterparts at the last set-piece.
Brumbies – Tries: Lachlan McCaffrey, Toni Pulu, Tevita Kuridrani, Tom Banks, Tom Wright. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (3).
Lions – Tries: Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Sylvian Mahuza. Conversion: Jantjies. Penalty: Jantjies.