Brumbies grind out ugly win

JON CARDINELLI reports on the Brumbies’ 27-19 victory over the Rebels on Friday.

This result sees the Brumbies consolidating their position at the top of the Australian conference. The four points would have been the objective in a clash before the break, but coach Jake White should be concerned with the quality of the performance against the Rebels.

The Brumbies were deserved if not comfortable winners. They had several chances to take this match away from the Rebels, but too often conceded points immediately after they had scored at the other end.

After 24 minutes, the scoreline was 14-3 in the Brumbies’ favour. The Rebels had just lost prop Jono Owen to a yellow card and the Brumbies had eventually penetrated the visitors’ defence. Following Andrew Smith’s try, however, a determined pack of Rebels forwards began to earn some reward for their physicality at the collisions.

Julian Huxley kicked three more penalties to leave the hosts trailing by just 14-12 at half-time. The Rebels were unlucky not to score before the break when James Hilgendorf danced through a gap and flew towards the tryline. Only some desperate scrambling defence by Brumbies centre Pat McCabe denied the Rebels a try.

Flyhalf Zack Holmes kicked a penalty after half-time, and following a sustained period on attack the Brumbies eventually crossed the tryline. It was at this point that the Brumbies enjoyed a 12-point lead, but the result was far from secure.

Cooper Vuna scored for the Rebels immediately after the restart and Huxley’s fantastic conversion brought the hosts back to within five points. The Brumbies’ defence had been found wanting once again.

Holmes goaled an important penalty in the 73rd minute to give the Brumbies an eight-point buffer, but almost on cue, the visitors’ allowed the Rebels to hit back.

Fortunately for the Brumbies, the Rebels turned down a kickable penalty and lost possession after a multiphase attack came to nought. The clock was on the visitors’ side as the Rebels continued to lose ball in contact and botch set-piece opportunities.