Brumbies prevail in tight contest
The Brumbies have maintained their position at the top of the Australian Super Rugby conference with a 30-22 win over the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park on Friday night.
The visitors ran in five tries to three and controlled territory and possession better than their hosts, who once again were guilty of numerous handling errors.
The Rebels got to within three points of the Brumbies on two occasions in the second half but could never get their noses in front in the tight contest.
Stoic defending from the Rebels kept the visitors at bay in the opening five minutes, holding out for 25 phases as the Brumbies struggled to get over the advantage line.
The pressure finally told as the Rebels infringed at the ruck, gifting the Brumbies and Christian Lealiifano an easy three points.
Rebels’ flyhalf Jack Debreczeni had an opportunity to level the scores straight after the restart but missed his shot from right in front of the posts.
The young number 10 made amends for his wayward kick just two minutes later when he sliced through the Brumbies defence and sent winger Cam Crawford under the posts the evenings’ first try.
The visitors regained the lead just six minutes later when David Pocock crossed on the back of a rolling maul.
The lead seesawed again as Debreczeni landed another three points for the home side.
Shortly after, Rory Arnold crashed over from short range and Lealiifano made no mistake with the conversion as the visitors went ahead 15-10.
The Rebels defended courageously again, absorbing over 20 phases of the Brumbies attack. The turnover ball saw the Rebels have a chance in attack but a poor kick from Debreczeni gifted the Brumbies a try the other way with Lealiifano the beneficiary.
With question marks over the final pass Lealiifano quickly attempted a drop kick conversion so the TMO couldn’t review the play.
The Rebels had one last attack to finish the first half, however a handling error brought about their downfall and the Brumbies went to the break with a 20-10 lead.
The Rebels closed the margin just minutes into the second half as Reece Hodge crossed in the right corner.
The blow-for-blow rugby continued as Scott Fardy replied for the Brumbies before the Rebels executed a wonderful set piece to send Sefa Naivalu in and bring the deficit back to just three.
Replacement prop Allan Alaalatoa thought he’d scored the Brumbies’ fifth try of the night, however as Lealiifano was lining up the conversion the play was reviewed and called back for a knock on in the build up.
It wasn’t long until the Brumbies had their fifth try with winger Nigel Ah Wong crossing in the right corner to restore the visitors’ eight-point lead.
With time up the Brumbies booted the ball into touch, denying themselves an opportunity at a potentially important bonus point.
The Brumbies have a bye next week while the Rebels travel to Waikato to play the Chiefs on Saturday night.