Brumbies Slaughter Listless Lions
The Brumbies outplayed the Lions by six tries to two to run out comfortable 34-20 winners in their Super Rugby match at Coca-Cola Park on Friday night.
The Brumbies were in control for most of the match after the Lions had again started off well.
But it was only towards the end, when the match became a little loose, that the Lions regained some sort of form on attack to run in their two tries in the last 17 minutes after trailing 34-6.
It was fairly even until just into the second quarter with possession slightly in favour of the home side.
The Lions were then ahead by 6-5 through two penalties to prop Ruaidhri Murphy's try and had been running well but not always effectively.
However, slowly the Brumbies started increasing their share of the possession, partly through Lions turnovers, and with sure handling on their part and poor tackling from the Lions it was just a matter of time before the visitors would score.
With flyhalf Christian Lealiifano keeping the home defenders guessing with some excellent distribution and footwork, the second Brumbies try came after 25 minutes when wing Henry Speight went over following good stepping by Lealiifano that created the hole for the outside backs.
Despite another miss of a goalable kick - the Brumbies squandered 10 kicking points in the first 25 minutes and 14 points in all - the pendulum had clearly swung their way and at 10-3, they were in command.
A third (converted) try by Andrew Smith followed after a good build-up, and again poor tackling in the preceding phases had given the Brumbies the impetus they needed. The half time score was 17-6.
The difference on attack between the two sides in the first half could probably be put down to the Brumbies varying their play with the more possession they had in the second quarter, while the Lions were rather predictable in their attacks.
Some small knock-ons were also not doing them favours as they struggled to get continuity. The visitors also had better and quicker possession from the breakdowns.
Then, after a brilliant run by Elton Jantjies five minutes into the second half, the ball was knocked from his hands and the Brumbies countered well for Joe Tomane to go over after a neat grubber from Pat McCabe (22-6).
Immediately from the kick-off, Brumbies flank Michael Hooper broke through and prop Ben Alexander scored their fifth with only their second successful kick from seven making it 29-6.
It became six tries ten minutes later when the Brumbies scored an easy try after yet another turnover by simply using the outside players to get it to Speight who this time cropped up on the left side for his second try (34-6).
The Lions suddenly started stringing a few phases and passes together. A sharp break by replacement scrumhalf Ross Cronje so very nearly resulted in a try for Jaco Taute, but from just a metre out from the Brumbies try line, Butch James shoulder-charged into the ruck after the whistle and was yellow-carded with 17 minutes remaining. A white card was also issued.
The Lions, however, then twice showed what they are capable of and it was Taute who ran an excellent line to go over under the posts from a well-timed pass by Jantjies (34-13).
The Lions now played with more authority, and it was good reward for their first few minutes and the last-ditch effort when prop Caylib Oosthuizen scored at the death after good mauling for Jantjies to convert.
It was a good final few minutes from the Lions, but it was once again a 15-minute effort against a well-drilled, good side that could well be the surprise towards the end of the competition.
SARugby.com Man of the Match: Fotu Auelua was a human wrecking ball during his 50 minutes on the park both on attack and on defence. Cobus Grobbelaar and Andries Coetzee were just two of his victims in a dominant performance by man and team.
Lions - Tries: Jaco Taute, Caylib Oosthuizen. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Jantjies (2).
Brumbies - Tries: Ruaidhri Murphy, Henry Speight (2), Andrew Smith, Joe Tomane, Ben Alexander. Conversions: Jesse Mogg, Christian Lealiifano.