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Brumbies player ratings vs Blues | Super Rugby Pacific

By Tom Vinicombe
Irae Simone. (Photo by Brett Phibbs/Photosport)

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The Brumbies came within a charged-down drop goal of causing a massive upset at Eden Park on Saturday night, narrowly losing out 19-20 against the Blues in the second Super Rugby Pacific semi-final.

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The away team certainly didn’t have history on their side heading into the contest, with no Australian team recording a play-off win in 19 attempts over two and a half decades. Still, they came out of the blocks firing, scoring the first try of the match throughout inside centre Irae Simone.

The Blues took control of the game from that point on, however, scoring the next 20 points to give the Brumbies a massive task heading into the second half. The Australians rose to the challenge, with some exceptional performances off the bench, and fought their way back to within one point with time almost up on the clock.

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Picking an All Blacks squad to take on Ireland.
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Picking an All Blacks squad to take on Ireland.

In what was effectively the last play of the game, Brumbies flyhalf Noah Lolesio attempted a drop goal from 40 metres out but Blues prop Ofa Tuungafasi managed to block the kick, ending the Brumbies’ hopes of an historic victory.

Who were the best performers for the Brumbies in defeat?

1. James Slipper 4/10
Pinged three times in the first half for illegal scrummaging and once early in the second spell for sealing off the ruck – although any number of Brumbies could have been penalised. Off in 47th minute.

2. Folau Fainga’a – 6
Came close to scoring after breaking away from a rolling maul with the Brumbies’ first attacking foray into the Blues 22. Lots of endeavour but struggled to generate much go-forward with the ball in hand. Hit his target on five of his six lineout deliveries. Off in 53rd minute.

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3. Allan Alaalatoa – 5
Off in 68th minute. The Brumbies campatain held up his side of the scrum well and kept his team motivated heading into the late stages of the match.

4. Darcy Swain – 4
Strong at the lineout, taking all five of his deliveries, but let his side down with some awful discipline and less than accurate defence. Penalised three times in the first half, once for not rolling away after the tackle, once for playing Josh Goodhue in the air at the lineout, and once for collapsing a maul. Copped another costly one with seven minutes remaining for getting offside at the breakdown when the Blues were camped on their goal line.

5. Cadeyrn Neville – 4
Had little to show for his time on the field. A poor pick-and-go attempt on the Blues’ try line resulted in the ball being held up and otherwise faded into the background. Off in 47th minute.

 

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6. Tom Hooper – N/A
Injured his shoulder with his first carry and then dropped the ball the next time it came his way. Unsurprisingly left the field immediately after, in the 17th minute.

7. Pete Samu – 6.5
The Brumbies’ top tackler with 10 to his name. Rarely had momentum on his side when hitting the ball up but always took at least a couple of tacklers to bring him to ground. Came close to grabbing a late try with a good run up the guts.

8. Rob Valetini – 4
It was a somewhat disappointing return to the field for Valetini with the big number 8 relatively anonymous. Touched the ball just four times and made six tackles before departing at half time.

9. Nic White – 5
It wasn’t a vintage game from the senior halfback with some scrappy play throughout. Caught napping twice at the breakdown in the first half. In both instances, he needed more support from his forwards, but still could have gotten the ball away if he’d hustled. Might have spent too much time chatting with the referee. Off in 53rd minute.

10. Noah Lolesio – 3.5
Looked good when he challenged the line but his skills regularly let him down. Couldn’t quite take an early high ball but somehow it worked out in the Brumbies’ favour, with the Blues knocking it on while trying to reclaim the bouncing ball. Missed three tackles in the lead-up to the Blues’ first try, on Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett and Hoskins Sotutu, and then two in the build-up to the Blues’ second, on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Barrett again. Was guilty of some inaccurate kicking early in the second half and threw some dicey passes.

11. Andy Muirhead – 7
Strong under the high ball, both on attack and defence. Made one great scything run in the second half. Jumped in to assist with lineout mauls.

12. Irae Simone – 7
Made an exceptional break from the first scrum, going straight throughout Stephen Perofeta, then managed to get on the outside of Beauden Barrett and dive over the line for a brilliant individual effort. Threw one inaccurate pass when the Brumbies were hot on attack. Added his weight to the late-game lineout drives.

13. Ollie Sapsford – 4
A good chase following the kick-off helped earned the Brumbies possession back after conceding their second try. Couldn’t bring down AJ Lam in the tackle at the beginning of the final quarter, with the Blues almost scoring from the ensuing momentum. Off in 68th minute.

14. Tom Wright – 6
Held up with his first carry of the ball. Stepped his way around a few tackles in the second half and was then dumped on his head. Came within inches of grabbing a try in the 58th minute after busting through the line but couldn’t get the ball down. Returned the favour minutes later, however, when he somehow managed to keep Barrett from grabbing a try of his own.

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15. Tom Banks – 5
Generally safe at the back. Almost missed touch with his first penalty but Lam couldn’t quite rein the ball in. Ran a nice support line off Muirhead to put the Blues under pressure but could have looked to give the ball to his outside man, instead being bundled into touch.

Reserves:

16. Lachlan Lonergan – 8.5
On in 53rd minute. Scored twice from driving mauls – his sixth and seventh meat pies of the season – and ran with vigour. Added massive impact off the bench and will have done his Wallabies chances a world of good.

17. Scott Sio – 4
On in 47th minute. Wasn’t any luckier at scrum time than the man he replaced (except when the Blues scrum engaged early).

18. Sosefo Kautai – 6
On in 68th minute. Grabbed a breakdown penalty with his first act off the bench.

19. Nick Frost – 6.5
On in 47th minute. Became the key man at the lineout when he joined the match and was safe as houses when the Brumbies were bombarding the Blues with driving mauls. Grabbed an important lineout steal with just six minutes left to play.

20. Luke Reimer – 8
On in 17th minute. Grabbed three breakdown turnovers and powered through plenty of work on both sides of the ball, finishing as the Brumbies’ second biggest tackler. Dropped the ball clean when the Brumbies were hot on attack at the 30-minute mark and was then gassed on the outside by Ioane when the Blues broke out from their own half (but who could blame him?) but was still one of the biggest performers on the night.

21. Jahrome Brown
On in 40th minute. Carried well and added a bit more impetus than Valetini.

22. Ryan Longergan – 5
On in 53rd minute. Passing and kicking – the bread and butter of a halfback’s repertoire – wasn’t quite on the mark.

23. Hudson Creighton – N/A
On in 68th minute.

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