Super Rugby, Round 4: Brumbies quiet 'boring' critics

There appears to be life in Australian rugby yet, with the Brumbies scoring a historic victory across the Tasman to end their 'Hamilton Hoodoo', while the Reds finally got on the board with a record-breaking win against the Sunwolves.

Despite the mumps making a mess of Round 4 preparations for the Brumbies, the Australian side hit their straps in Waikato to pin back the ladder-leading Chiefs and bounce back from last week's heartbreaking loss to the Highlanders. In doing so, they quieted their New Zealand critics.

Elsewhere, there were wins for the Crusaders, Sharks and Stormers, as well as the Blues courtesy of a Otere Black converted penalty after fulltime against the Bulls.


It was always going to take something special for the Brumbies to get over the Chiefs in Hamilton, but the way in which they overcame the Waikato side was something to behold.

Ravaged by an outbreak of the mumps in the lead up to the clash and with 13 years of history against them, the media didn't give much stock to the Brumbies bouncing back from their heart-breaking Round 3 loss -- ESPN included-- but despite the odds, they dominated upfront giving rookie Noah Lolesio free rein to find the gaps and send Tom Banks and Tevita Kuridrani over the line.

Their win was built off their incredible opening 40 minutes where they ran up a 19-0 lead, and scored a fourth in the opening minutes of the second half to go 26 points clear, before they held strong to repel the home side's comeback.

While the win broke the Brumbies' 13-year Hamilton drought and ended Australian rugby's poor start against cross-conference opposition, it also quieted critics of their 'boring' rolling maul reliant game-plan.

Without hooker Folau Fainga'a due to a toe injury, the Brumbies were expected to struggle to find try-scoring opportunities. Instead, they controlled possession, held sway upfront and provided plenty of front foot ball, giving them a chance to showcase their impressive backline and prove they were more than a 'boring', one-trick pony.

Continuing his brilliant form, Lolesio wasn't afraid to take the ball to the line on several occasions, opening plenty of gaps in the Chiefs' defence with his strong offload game. A try to Solomone Kata and a barn-storming run from Tevita Kuridrani kept the Chiefs at bay, while it was Banks who shone brightest for the visitors.

With three clean breaks, four defenders beaten and 102 metres run, Banks was in red hot form and is sure to have captured the eye of Wallabies incumbent coach Dave Rennie. He was the beneficiary of a lovely offload from Lolesio to James Slipper who juggled it off to Banks who danced through a Damian McKenzie tackle before crossing over in the ninth minute. He was in the action again just minutes later when he set up Kata with some quick hands.

Their forwards weren't quiet either. Slipper made his presence known with strong work up front and hammering tackles, while their scrum was dominant in the first half and created the first of Pete Samu's tries. His second came minutes after the break after he punched through the defence at close to halfway and bounced off two more defenders before dotting down under the post.

Bouncing back and extending their lead atop the Australian conference table, the Brumbies head into their bye with a 3-1 record and a chance to bring the recuperated squad back together


Their first match at home and following a mammoth three-week world tour, the Reds finally got a win on the board and produced the complete game they've been hinting at since the opening round. Yes, it may only be the Sunwolves, but by holding the visitors scoreless for over 60 minutes while dominating every facet of the game, the Reds have proven they've got the game plan and the skills to turn their season around.

Leading the Brumbies, Lions and Jaguares midway through the second half in all three of their losses, the Reds have shown they can threaten the best only to fall apart in the final minutes -- ill-discipline a main culprit. It was a different story on Saturday night, however.

Out the blocks firing, the Reds were on the board in the opening minutes and never slowed through the 80-minutes. They never tired and showed no hints of the whirlwind round-the-world tour they had just completed.

Leading the show again from fly-half, James O'Connor had his fingerprints on everything, as he ignited the backline and pierced the gaps, scoring a try off his own break that saw him combine with Henry Speight before collecting the offload back in field to cap off a solid first half performance.

The grin on O'Connor's face at the end of the match told the story - he's found his place.

Speaking post-match, O'Connor said he'd been hungry for more ball post the Rugby World Cup, and at the Reds he's found it.

"I spent a lot of time playing at the 12 position but I guess after that World Cup I was a little bit, not disappointed, but left me hungry because I wanted to get my hands on the ball a little bit more," he told Fox Sports. "It's just unfolded that way [to play No.10 at the Reds], but I'm not going to lie, I am enjoying it."

The Reds' forward pack was humming throughout the match. Dominating at the scrum, lineout and breakdown, the Sunwolves saw little possession, and any they found was quickly snuffled back up by Reds captain Liam Wright.

With the Reds owning the breakdown the backline was able to sing, with fullback Jock Campbell and outside centre Hunter Paisami linking up with O'Connor to help hammer home the 10-try win.

Amazingly the win saw them jump to ninth on the combined table, but they'll face a sterner test next week when they take on the Sharks.


Blues coach Leon MacDonald's risky decision to play all three of his playmakers in starting positions has come up trumps for his side as they left Loftus Versfeld with an unlikely victory through Otere Black's boot after the siren.

In just their third victory in 14 matches in South Africa, the bold triple playmaker move proved the winning factor with the visitors forced to dig themselves out of a tight spot in the dying minutes, despite scoring three-tries-to-two.

Returning from injury, Black slotted in nicely at fly-half, with Stephen Perofeta moving to fullback and Harry Plummer shifting to inside centre. It provided the Blues plenty of kicking options as the conditions proved difficult with wet ball and slippery turf underfoot.

Perofeta made himself known throughout the game and added a try to his efforts, but it was Black who proved the difference. His slick passes and a strong kicking game kept them in the hunt, while his handling of the backline was crucial and his late penalty showed a calm temperament.

For a side that's struggled to find it's winning edge, for once they came up big to get on top.