Brumbies trample toothless Sharks
March 16, 2013
Matt Toomua pressed his Wallabies claims with an exceptional performance in Durban
© Getty Images
Fontunuupule Auelua Keegan Daniel Tevita Kuridrani Jesse Mogg George Smith Henry Speight Joe Tomane Matt Toomua Jake White
The Brumbies confirmed themselves the Super Rugby pace-setters by bursting out of the blocks and smashing the Sharks 29-10 in Durban to remain the only undefeated side in the competition.
The win was their seventh in a row on the road, giving them the record for the most consecutive away wins in Super Rugby history, but more importantly the Brumbies are now six points clear of the second-placed Chiefs on the Super Rugby ladder having won all four of their games this year.
Jake White's team ran onto Kings Park Stadium like a team possessed, launching wave after wave in attack to tire last year's Super Rugby runners-up and rack up the four-try bonus point in just 34 minutes. The Brumbies pushed forward with more than ball in hand, with their rush defence putting the Sharks on the back foot throughout and openside flanker George Smith creating havoc at the breakdown.
Man of the Match Fotu Auelua was dominant in the first half, the No.8's direct running sucking in three defenders in the build-up to each of the first two tries to create overlaps on both occasions. "Fotu led from the front and worked hard to get us over the advantage line," White said. "It's fantastic and rewarding for a coach when you make a couple of changes and get a return from the boys who get a chance."
Brumbies fly-half Matt Toomua and inside centre Christian Lealiifano also had outstanding games, with former Sevens player Tevita Kuridrani providing additional flair in his first start of the season at outside centre. "One thing I enjoy about Matt Toomua is his ability to take the ball to the line and keep defenders honest to create space out wide," White said.
The Brumbies are looking good atop the Super Rugby ladder. (Video available only in Australia.)%]
Half-back Nic White suffered a head knock in the first tackle of the match; he was soon replaced by Ian Prior, who was sensational in directing the flow of the play and providing runners with wide, flat passes. Standout fullback Jesse Mogg was another injury concern after the match, having left the pitch with an injured left shoulder in the 57th minute, while Peter Kimlin and Scott Sio also limped to the sideline.
The Brumbies started in the best possible way, working the ball up the field patiently and error free as Mogg scored in the fifth minute and Joe Tomane went over in the corner to establish a 12-point lead in as many minutes. Toomua stumbled over for the Brumbies third and the pack forced a centre-field tight-head scrum from their fatigued counterparts in the 34th minute, with the fly-half catching the blindside defence off guard and throwing a looping cut out pass to Henry Speight to bring up the four-try bonus point.
Heavy rain fell at half-time, stifling the Brumbies expansive game plan. The Sharks also improved, captain Keegan Daniel leading the way with the only try of the second half in the 51st minute. The try was notable because it was the first the Sharks had scored since round two and because the Brumbies had not conceded a second-half try in their previous three fixtures.
Daniel paid tribute to the Brumbies, saying they held onto the ball for long periods of time, sucking in the Sharks' defence and then spreading it wide. "Offloads hurt you in rugby and they managed to do that a lot in the first half," Daniel said of the Brumbies.
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures