A blitzkrieg of two tries inside the opening 10 minutes set the Brumbies up for a comprehensive 38-13 win over the Sharks in their Super Rugby quarterfinal match in Canberra on Saturday.
The hosts outscored the Durbanites, whose defence let them down badly in the narrower channels, by five tries to one, showcasing how important it is to make us of one’s opportunities.
In cold conditions, with the temperatures dropping to 4 degrees at kickoff and almost at freezing point during the game, the Brumbies warmed their supporters hearts by also producing an accomplished effort on defence, adding gloss to a complete performance and setting up a semifinal clash against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires next weekend.
For the Sharks, yet another unfulfilled season comes to a close.
Who was the star in this match?
Brumbies lock Rory Arnold, who stands 2.08m in his boots, has been impressive all year and he set up the team’s first try when he neatly passed inside to set up No 8 Pete Samu for his first try, while he also played a role in the second try scored by wing Henry Speight. He stopped a potential Sharks try from a maul three minutes before the break, breaking through the middle and creating a vital turnover.
Key moments and themes
- The game was effectively won and lost within the first 1o minutes of the game as the Brumbies shocked the Sharks just 56 seconds after the kickoff with their first try and then landing the second blow minutes later. Both well-worked tries saw the home side exploit some lazy defending in the middle.
- To add insult to injury, the Sharks’ rhythm was disrupted after they suffered two big injury blows to their loose trio. First, the influential No 8 Dan du Preez went off with a rib injury in the 15th minute and a minute later flank Tyler Paul also left with a shoulder complaint. He had to be replaced by a lock in Gideon Koegelenberg. It deprived the Sharks from making any impact through their bench.
- The Sharks dominated possession and territory in the second half, but only had Andre Esterhuizen’s try to show for it. Against a solid Brumbies defence, they showed too little variety on attack to sow some sort of confusion. They also failed to gain any dominance at scrum-time and Brumbies flank Tom Cusack disrupted their breakdown regularly.
Brumbies – Tries: Pete Samu (2), Henry Speight, Joe Powell, Matt Lucas. Conversions: Christian Leali’ifano (5). Penalty: Leali’ifano.
Sharks – Try: Andre Esterhuizen. Conversion: Curwin Bosch. Penalties: Bosch (2).