Super 14 - Game of the Week
Brumbies bounce back to winning ways
May 1, 2010
Brumbies prop Ben Alexander grabbed two tries to inspir ehis side's victory over the Reds in Canberra
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The Brumbies breathed life into their bid for this year's Super 14 title with an impressive 32-12 victory over the Reds at Canberra Stadium.
Two tries from loose-head Ben Alexander and further scores from lock David Chisholm and scrum-half Josh Valentine saw the hosts climb to sixth place on the ladder with fly-half Matt Giteau pulling the strings to claim victory in his showdown with Reds counterpart Quade Cooper who kicked all of his side's points. The Reds, who despite the loss remain in the play-off picture in fourth, were second in all departments and are now without a win against their Australian rivals since 1999.
In a lively opening the Reds applied all the early pressure with fly-half Quade Cooper almost picking off an interception but an error from flanker Daniel Braid gifted great field position to the Brumbies and when the Reds strayed offside the home side boldly opted for the scrum. And they were rewarded for their gamble when lock Chisholm powered over from close range for the opening try of the game. Giteau added the difficult conversion to cement the Brumbies deserved lead.
The Reds rallied well with Anthony Faingaa looking dangerous with ball in hand but Giteau's boot cleared the danger and continued to dictate proceedings. Scrum-half Josh Valentine opted for a quick tap when the Reds conceded another penalty in the shadow of their own posts soon after and although he was held up the Brumbies were handed another opportunity with the referee opting to penalise the Reds for not retreating. This time the Brumbies opted for the scrum and the Reds' creaking defence finally gave way again with loose-head Alexander burrowing his way over. The increasingly-influential Giteau ensured another maximum with an excellent kick for the extras.
The Reds finally got on the board thanks to a Cooper penalty a couple of minutes later but the ferocity of the Brumbies at the breakdown continued to bring further reward in terms of field position and momentum. However, a sloppy penalty for not retreating on a kick allowed Cooper to reduce the arrears with his second penalty.
Referee Chris Pollock, in charge after Steve Walsh was stood down for the game, then felt compelled to have a word with Reds captain Will Genia and his Brumbies counterpart Stephen Hoiles due to the amount of skirmishes off-the-ball but the break in the action failed to slow the home side who continued to press as the half drew to a close. Alexander went close to his second try but some excellent scrambling defence saw Genia snaffled the ball before Cooper cleared the danger. Prop Jack Kennedy was penalised for coming in from the side in the last act of the opening period but Giteau was unable to extend his side's lead from the kicking tee.
The Reds looked to raise their game after the break and their decision to stick to the basics led to significant time in possession but they found their way blocked on more than one occasion by some well-regimented defence. However, the Brumbies eagerness got the better of them and Cooper duly punished them with the first points of the second half. The Reds continued to turn the screw and Cooper soon had his fourth penalty when Brumbies hooker Stephen Moore was penalised inside his own 22 for not releasing the elusive Genia. In a rare foray into the Reds' 22, fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper took some stopping as he joined the line at pace and when the ball was recycled Valentine darted through a gap and the tackle of Cooper to notch his side's third try and stop that stopped the rot. Giteau slotted his third conversion to give the Brumbies a little more breathing room.
The Brumbies were soon knocking on the door again with a superb burst from flanker Rocky Elsom taking his team into the 22 but Ashley-Cooper could not hold what looked to be a scoring pass. Giteau was next to find a gap in the Reds' defence and Ashley-Cooper almost atoned for his earlier mistake before a knock gave the Brumbies the scrum under the posts. Pressure at scrum time drew yet another penalty against the Reds and Hoiles signalled to Giteau to go for the easy kick and his fly-half obliged.
Even with the game seemingly safe, the Brumbies refused to let up with Giteau orchestrating another powerful surge that resulted in replacement hooker Huia Edmonds losing the ball as he looked to score from close range. But play was called back for an earlier penalty and Giteau kicked to the corner in search of the bonus point try. And it was in the bag when Alexander darted over on the shortside after a well-worked lineout move. Giteau could only pull his conversion attempt wide of the posts but the contest was over. The Wallabies star added one final penalty from long range to set the seal on the victory and ensure the Rod Macqueen Cup remains in the nation's capital for at least another year.