Super Rugby

Super Rugby Notebook, July 8: Brumbies dealt blow in finals race

The Brumbies were thumped 40-15 by the Blues on Friday to throw the race for Australian qualification to the finals wide open.

The Blues are rock bottom of the New Zealand Conference and without a hope of reaching the play-offs, but they produced a dominant display to dent the chances of their visitors, who are now tied on points with fierce rivals the Waratahs at the top of the Australian Conference.

"They came out red hot and it was disappointing, we couldn't really steady the momentum," Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

"They punished us for every little mistake we made, we were off in defence and couldn't shut down their threats.

"Your confidence takes a little hit, that was pretty humbling. That's the nature of Super Rugby, teams can be hot and cold and then punish you when you're not looking."

There was another convincing victory for New Zealand over Australia as the Chiefs hammered Queensland Reds 50-5, while the Lions - already assured of their place in the finals - were 57-21 victors over the Southern Kings.

 

THE LOWDOWN

Blues 40-15 Brumbies

The Blues turned in one of the most clinical performances of the season to comfortably beat the Brumbies at Eden Park.

Jerome Kaino and Matt Duffie each crossed twice for the hosts, who led 28-7 after just 22 minutes despite the former spending time in the sin bin for illegally bringing down a maul.

 

Queensland Reds 5-50 Chiefs

New Zealand Conference leaders Chiefs were similarly ruthless as they ran in eight tries against the struggling Queensland Reds in Brisbane.

The Reds were briefly reduced to 13 men when Nick Frisby and Jack Tuttle received yellow cards in quick succession during the first half, but their opponents were a class above regardless, Seta Tamanivalu and Damian McKenzie both claiming two tries. The latter also kicked five conversions.

 

Lions 57-21 Southern Kings

With their place in the Super Rugby finals already secure, the Lions ran riot against the Kings, crossing for eight tries in an all-South African encounter at Ellis Park.

Only 10 points separated the sides at half-time, with the score at 17-7, but two sin-binnings in four minutes for the visitors allowed the Lions to ramp up the pressure and give their victory a convincing edge, Rohan Janse van Rensburg scoring two of his side's tries.

 

THE KEY MOMENTS

After conceding two early tries, the Brumbies were handed a lifeline in Auckland when referee Ben O'Keeffe awarded them a penalty try and yellow carded Kaino. However, with Kaino in the bin, the Blues scored two wonderful tries to essentially end the game as a contest inside 22 minutes. A flowing move from deep ended with prop Sam Prattley crossing, before Duffie collected an inside pass from Steven Luatua to go over on the right wing.

The dismissal of Shane Gates and Edgar Marutlulle within such a short timeframe came as a huge boost to the Lions, who turned the contest into a rout while the Kings were numerically disadvantaged.

 

THE REACTION

Blues skipper James Parsons told Sky Sport: "We're best when we play on our instincts. That's what we're good at, but I think we earned the right to play out there. We're not the complete package, but we're moving in the right direction."

James Slipper reacted to the Reds' humbling at the hands of the Chiefs by saying: "It was really disappointing the way we performed, especially here at home."

 

THE UPSHOT

With the Australian Conference being a low-scoring affair, the Brumbies can ill afford to lose their grip on top spot, so will be hoping the Waratahs falter at home to the Hurricanes on Saturday.

Victory for the Waratahs ahead of the final round of fixtures would likely leave the Brumbies needing to rely on achieving a wildcard position to seal their progression to the finals.