February 24, 2019

Brumbies too strong for Gallagher Chiefs

A nine try blitz from the Brumbies has seen them cruise to an impressive 54-17 victory of the visiting Gallagher Chiefs at GIO Stadium in Canberra.

Five tries in the first 40 minutes gave the home side a comfortable 23-point lead at the break, and they backed that up with another four in the second half to hand the Chiefs their second loss in as many weeks to start the 2019 season.

Lock Brodie Retallick led the Chiefs out onto the field in his 100th match for the club and the visitors started brightly, putting pressure on the Brumbies from the opening kick-off, winning a ruck penalty and turning it into three points from the boot of first five Damian McKenzie.

For the next 10 minutes the visitors dominated the match, earning good field position with some clever tactical kicking and patient build up, but were unable to make much of a dent in the Brumbies defence.

After absorbing the early pressure, the Brumbies worked their way downfield and eventually crossed the line with centre Tevita Kuridrani the man to score the first try of the night.

The Kuridrani try was followed just moments later by a nice inside pass from first five Christian Lealiifano near the halfway line which put Tom Banks into a gap, and the Brumbies fullback showed good speed and footwork to go around his opposite Shaun Stevenson to score a brilliant try.

They didn't have to wait long for their third, as Lealiifano split the Chiefs defence open again, bursting onto a pass from his halfback Joe Powell, before finding wing Chance Peni who finished in the left-hand corner.

Searching for some much needed momentum, the Chiefs turned down a simple penalty shot at goal, and were rewarded when wing Ataata Moeakiola showed good acceleration to get past his defender and score his first try in Chiefs colours.

McKenzie's conversion brought the Chiefs back to within 11 points at the half hour mark.

But as the first half neared its conclusion, the Brumbies applied more pressure inside the Chiefs 22, which resulted in their fourth try with Number 8 Lachlan McCaffrey scoring from a strong run off the back of a five metre scrum.

With just a minute remaining in the half there was a chance for the home side to add further points and they aggressively opted for the lineout instead of taking a simple three points, which paid off handsomely as hooker Folau Fainga’a crashed his way over from a rolling maul.

The Brumbies fifth try brought to an end a dominant first 40 minutes, as they headed into the break with a 33-10 lead.

Desperately seeking the first points of the second half to keep them in the match, the Chiefs suddenly looked a lot sharper, clearly getting some stern words at the halftime break, but simple errors with ball in hand continued to let them down.

Once more the home side made them pay, as they launched a superb counter attack from near their own goal line, going 90 metres at break neck speed with Chance Peni finishing off for his second of the match.

The accurate Lealiifano added the extras for the Brumbies to hit the 40-point mark.

This time the response from the Chiefs resulted in points as replacement hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho squeezed his way over the line to give the visitors a glimmer of hope as the match headed towards the three-quarter mark.

Substitutions from both sides disrupted the flow of the game and, despite the Chiefs continuing to look dangerous with ball in hand, they were unable to play at the right end of the field as the Brumbies remained disciplined on attack and defence.

Just before the 70th minute mark, replacement hooker Josh Mann-Rea dotted down for the Brumbies eighth try as they stretched their lead out to 30 points.

There was time for one final try as replacement first five Wharenui Hawera took the ball to the line and timed a nice short pass to Tevita Kuridrani who burst through the defensive line to bring up the half century of points and cap a hugely impressive display from the Brumbies.

Gallagher Chiefs 17 (Ataata Moeakiola, Samisoni Taukei’aho tries; Damian McKenzie 2 cons, pen) Brumbies 54 (Tevita Kuridrani 2, Chance Peni 2, Tom Banks, Chance Peni, Lachlan McCaffrey, Folau Fainga’a, Josh Mann-Rea tries; Christian Lealiifano 5 cons, Wharenui Hawera 2 cons) HT: 10-33.

The Gallagher Chiefs return home for their next match, against the Sunwolves at FMG Stadium Waikato on Saturday 2 March (kick off 7.35pm).

Brumbies too strong for Gallagher Chiefs