This article was originally published on stuff.co.nz and is reproduced with permission
Mark the Brumbies as serious contenders for the Super Rugby Pacific title.
After toppling the Highlanders and Hurricanes over the past two weeks, crossing the divide to face the Chiefs in Hamilton was to provide the real litmus test.
And, ahead of 10,821 at FMG Stadium Waikato on Saturday night, the home side were outscored 38-28 by the clinical Canberrans, who went to a record 10-1 in this competition, sitting behind only the Blues in the lead. on the scale.
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Clearly in this victory against a Chiefs team that was looking for a fourth victory on the rebound, they could be the real deal. There were maybe four tries apiece, but the Brumbies controlled the majority, despite being forced to make 80 more tackles than the hosts.
Half-back and captain Nic White was an inspiration in his time, opening the scoring with a smart flurry and later taking off with a crucial 50-22 kick, and he had plenty of willing and able assistants around from him.
Wallabies halves partner Noah Lolesio kicked 18 off the tee, the two Toms outside backs (Wright and Banks) were their usual dangerous selves, while the loose forward trio of Rob Valetini, Jahrome Brown and Pete Samu once again made a massive display. in brutal exchanges.
After White snuck like a thief in the night on the smaller of the short sides near the line, leaving Tupou Vaa’i looking like a fool at the back of the ruck, the visitors never found themselves behind, against a Chiefs team that will miss many. handling errors, on the wrong side of an ugly turnover count of 15-6.
Quinn Tupaea impressed with the touches he collected in midfield and helped set up Alex Nankivell for the response try, while impressive young half-back Cortez Ratima netted a second in as many weeks, but in the meantime a huge Brumbies scrum saw them take a rolling maul and they took an 18-14 advantage at halftime.
The visitors then fired out of the gates in the second stanza, earning an early spin penalty then taking advantage of Wright sending Len Ikitau through a holeshot and suddenly the lead was 11.
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Needing something special, the Chiefs approached the hour mark, when a close-range lineout resulted in a stunning try against a rampaging Pita Gus Sowakula, and all of a sudden the momentum kicked in. changed to hosts.
A huge Brumbies counter-ruck soon after, and shortly after a stray offload from Emoni Narawa, however, let the air out of that ball, and the coffin was nailed in the final 10 minutes with Valetini who stormed and put Billy Pollard aside.
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