A double from winger Henry Speight yesterday powered the ACT Brumbies to a 33-0 thrashing of Japan’s Sunwolves in a free-flowing Super Rugby performance to silence criticism of their tactics.
The Brumbies came into the game with some commentators complaining about their use of the rolling maul to score tries, rather than the expansive play that they were once known for.
However, the Canberra-based outfit showed that they can score whichever way they want with five dot downs from open play to secure their sixth win of the season and fifth on the trot at home.
The bonus point win propelled them to the top of the Australian conference, one clear of the Melbourne Rebels, to set up an exciting back end of the season, with the finals in sight.
“Really nice to get some tries out there and play the way we did,” Brumbies skipper Christian Lealiifano said. “What’s more impressive, probably, was keeping them to zero. They’re a really attacking side who can score points.”
The writing was on the wall for the Sunwolves, who had lost all three previous clashes against the Brumbies. The Japanese franchise now have 10 defeats to two wins so far this season as they once again prop up the standings.
“Credit to them, they work well as a team,” Sunwolves captain Dan Pryor said. “We played well in patches, just have to cut out the little errors.”
Despite the scoreline, the Sunwolves started positively and were unlucky not to score in the third minute when Gerhard van den Heever dragged his foot over the sideline just before grounding the ball under pressure from Joe Powell.
They had plenty of early possession, but the Brumbies withstood the barrage before Speight broke down the wing and combined with Tevita Kuridrani on a counterattack to get their first five-pointer on 12 minutes.
Star center Kuridrani, returning from a knee complaint, brought firepower through the midfield and he was heavily involved again as Powell powered through for another long-range try just minutes later.
It went from bad to worse for the Sunwolves when fullback Ryohei Yamanaka was stretchered off in a neck brace before Speight bagged his second try — his 45th in Super Rugby — in the corner after a floating pass from Christian Lealiifano.
It gave the home team a 19-0 halftime lead and they stretched it further through tries from Tom Banks — who finished a 40m run after being set up by Speight — and then Pete Samu, with Kuridrani again in the thick of the action.
The dependable Lealiifano booted four conversions.
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