The ACT Brumbies moved to the top of the Australian Super 15 conference with a 37-6 demolition of the Melbourne Rebels yesterday.
The Brumbies scored five tries against a woeful Melbourne side, whose only points came from two penalties in the first half.
The bonus point win allowed the Brumbies to leapfrog New South Wales and Queensland as the leading Australian team and kept them in contention to finish in the top two and host a semi-final.
They were far too strong for a disappointing Rebels outfit, who were a shadow of the team that overwhelmed the Auckland Blues the week before.
Under new coach Jake White, the young ACT players recovered well from their recent loss to the Queensland Reds and were never threatened by the visitors from Melbourne.
“We weren’t happy the way we played last week,” Brumbies captain Ben Mowen said. “The training during the week was good and obviously the first 40 minutes tonight laid the platform.”
The Brumbies dominated territory and possession from the outset and were rewarded with two Christian Lealiifano penalties in the opening 10 minutes.
Melbourne hardly touched the ball in the early stages, but they struck back after 15 minutes with a massive 53m penalty from Danny Cipriani.
However, the Brumbies responded immediately when inside center Pat McCabe brushed aside fellow Wallaby James O’Connor to score under the posts.
O’Connor replied with a penalty, only for the Brumbies to seize control with tries for flanker Michael Hooper and lock Scott Fardy, both coming from sloppy defending around the edge of the rucks.
Things went from bad to worse for the Rebels when skipper Gareth Delve was shown the yellow card for persistent offenses.
During his 10 minutes off the field, the Brumbies scored a fourth try when Mowen steamed onto an inside ball from McCabe to touch down beside the posts.
The Rebels were far more committed in the second half and tried hard to break down the Brumbies defense, but a series of unforced errors continually handed the advantage back to the home side.
The Brumbies absorbed everything the Rebels threw at them, then had the final say when Fardy crashed over for his second try.
“We just weren’t at the races — the first 30 minutes especially we just didn’t get off the line,” Delve said. “We didn’t make our -tackles, which we had talked about all week, and the Brumbies just kept coming at us.”
New Zealander Matt Sexton will coach the Southern Kings when they debut in the Super 15 next season, the franchise announced on Friday.
Sexton will take charge from July, guiding the Port Elizabeth, South Africa-based team in the Currie Cup national championship ahead of their maiden southern hemisphere provincial competition appearance in February next year.
Current coach Alan Solomons becomes director of rugby and he lavished praise on 41-year-old Sexton, whose coaching staff includes compatriot Brad Mooar and former Springbok center De Wet Barry.
“Matt is head and shoulders the right guy for Kings rugby. He is a good man and has the capability to end up coaching New Zealand,” the former Western Province coach said. “I personally vouch for Matt Sexton as he possesses the exact character traits that we are looking for in this region — integrity, altruism and professionalism.”
Sexton made 128 appearances for Canterbury, moved to the Irish province of Ulster when Solomons coached there, and is now rugby academy manager of the Tasman provincial team.