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Brumbies grind out statement Super Rugby win over Blues

By AAP
(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

The ACT Brumbies have shown they’re not to be messed with this Super Rugby Pacific season, beating the New Zealand powerhouse Blues 25-20 in Melbourne.

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Avenging their 2022 semi-final defeat, the Brumbies were seriously tested by the Blues, digging deep to grind out the win with poise in the second half.

It was a statement win that firmed up the Brumbies’ case as one of the league’s top sides, scored against a highly-fancied Blues outfit coming off a 40-point win from round one.

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Now 2-0, the Brumbies relied on their set-piece dominance to control proceedings and had the Blues on the back foot early, winning a lop-sided penalty count 16-8.

The wild encounter brought 45 points in the first half but somehow none in the second, as proceedings tightening up drastically with neither outfit threatening the try line.

The ACT’s rolling maul fired on all cylinders and produced two tries in the first half, with the first – a penalty try – leaving Blues prop James Lay in the sin bin.

He was the second Blue yellow-carded but the two-man disadvantage did little to stop them grinding their way into the game, scoring through Ricki Riccitelli and later via a powerful run from Tom Robinson.

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ACT winger Andy Muirhead also crossed, capitalising on slick back-line passing after they’d again camped on the Blues’ line.

The Brumbies could have led by more than the 25-20 scoreline at halftime after controlling the game but being plagued by defensive lapses and sub-standard ball security.

The Blues had the better of the second half but rarely threatened their opponent’s stubborn line, some struggles at the line-out costing the Brumbies a chance to put things away earlier.

Wallabies duo Nic White and Noah Lolesio entered for the final 30 minutes and helped close out the win, though starting halves Jack Debreczeni and Ryan Lonergan were again impressive.

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Skipper Allan Alaalatoa left the game inside the first 10 minutes with a head knock and didn’t return.

Former Sydney Rooster Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was at his electrifying best with some surging runs, although he went down late in the piece with a calf niggle.

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