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Brumbies player ratings vs Chiefs | Super Rugby Pacific

By Mike Rehu
Tom Wright. (Photo by Jeremy Ward/Photosport)

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The Brumbies have entered a tough patch of their draw in Super Rugby Pacific. In the next three weeks they have to take on the Blue and  Crusaders while the first step was the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday night.

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Judging by the 6-2 split on the bench and the muscularity in the trenches, the Brumbies wanted to physically stamp their mark on this game and led at halftime, 18-14, with some brutal attack and bruising defence.

For all the power exhibited, the Brumbies were well down on territory and possession but they made the most of every opportunity to win 38-28 and keep their second spot on the table. The Aussies will be happy with their efficiency; points materialised with every visit to the attacking 22.

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Are Australian teams catching up to their NZ counterparts?

It was an interesting template to get right against a Kiwi side and it will be fascinating to see if the strategy will continue to be successful in the next fortnight. The Blues and Crusaders be warned, this is a tough Brumbies squad!

Here’s how the Brumbies rated:

1. James Slipper – 8
A lot to love about the test match centurion. The senior starter in the front row got around like a colt making some good tackles, a team-topping 15 when he left the field, and giving Angus Ta’avao an uncomfortable time in the set-piece. Off at 52.

2. Folau Fainga’a – 8
I was licking my lips at this brawny match up at hooker and the Aussie got the better of his opposite Samisoni Taukei’aho. His only blemish was missing a jumper in the first attacking lineout, but vigorous leg pumping in a lineout maul led to his try in the 18th minute. Every one of his 15 hits was made with venom and even got back for a mark on the run in the 37th minute.

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3. Sefo Kautai – 8
A return to old stamping ground for the prop, having played 11 games for Waikato 2016 and being a Chiefs squad member in 2017. He showed a potent mix of power and mobility, the 16th-minute scrum penalty that led to the Fainga’a try was a highlight for him, as well as brave claims for the loose ball on the ground in the 34th and 50th minutes. Off at 52.

4. Darcy Swain – 7.5
A player who always needs to control his emotions but has matured well in the last year or two. Not the greatest start with an offside charge down attempt in the 1st minute, but some good work at the breakdown, especially a good counter rucking in the 10th minute and joined Jahrome Brown as top tackler after 80.

5. Caderyn Neville – 7
A great beast to have in your engine room. Good source of lineout ball for the Aussies and off at 59 minutes.

 

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6. Rob Valetini – 8
Muffed a try in the 14th minute, beaten by Bryn Gatland and a disobedient ball. Made a brilliant run into a gap in the 72nd minute to seal the deal, setting up Billy Pollard.

7. Jahrome Brown – 8.5
The Hamilton Boys’ High School old boy looked like he was having a school reunion, getting his hair tousled every time he chopped down one of his many schoolmates in the first few minutes but after half an hour he was proving to be a source of major annoyance to the Chiefs. The signs in the crowd showed the whanau was there and he played for every one of them. An energetic charge set up momentum for Len Ikitau’s try but his best work was on defence. He’s certainly let the Chiefs franchise know that he’s one that got away.

8. Pete Samu – 9
Majestic display from the ex-Crusader. Top metres from either team, top lineout takes and 15 tackles. A full 80-minute display of skill and power. So many things to love with his ball running but my favourites were the athletic collection from the kick-off at 12 minutes and a fearless turnover in the 41st minute.

9. Nic White – 8
The little general was at his best behind a feisty pack. Scored his first try of the season after 7 minutes, spotting a hair’s breadth of space down the blind. Did a lot of work changing the point of attack around the breakdown, keeping the Chiefs guessing. There was a period where the home team looked like they were getting back into the match but he turned the tide wonderfully with a 50-22 kick at 50 minutes. Off at 59.

10. Noah Lolesio – 6
Good cog in the machine who didn’t overplay his hand. Strong placekicking and got buffeted in defence but didn’t shirk.

11. Andy Muirhead – 7.5
One of those quiet achievers who suited the style of play his team choose. Chased box kicks like a crazy dog after a stick at the beach. Some intrepid defence as well. A smart interception in the 6th minute shut down a Chiefs attack and he smashed Narawa in the 64th.

12. Irae Simone – 4.5
Not one of his best games, was one of the few players outplayed by his opposite. Made an unfortunate spill in the 9th minute to give away possession and moments later got his hand in the way of a Quinn Tupaea pop to Nankivell but the try was scored. Missed four tackles and put in some aimless grubber kicks instead of setting up a recycle.

13. Len Ikitau – 7
Like many of his backline mates, was pretty anonymous in the first half. I love the way he snaps into action when he gets the ball in hand though. Secured a great finish in the 44th minute and made a brave burst for the line in the 51st.

14. Tom Wright – 7.5
The competition’s leading try-scorer couldn’t add to his tally of seven but more importantly, he set up two for his team. He added some thrust in midfield after some lateral movement that led to White’s try with a good pass to the left flank. Then, in the 44th minute, he committed two defenders to give Ikitau a run in. Great catch off the touchline at 60 to deny the Chiefs an attacking lineout.

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15. Tom Banks – 6.5
One of those players who always ends up with more metres than you’d pick, grabbing 66 mainly from just running kicks back. Like Muirhead, he spent a lot of time chasing kicks, especially in the 45th and 50th minutes. There’s always a suspicion that his kicking from hand is a little wonky; he muffed an up and under at 60 minutes.

Reserves:

16. Billy Pollard – 6
On at 65 and made a great run on the jet stream of Valetini to score the try that put the icing on the cake.

17. Scott Sio – 5.5
On at 52 and was solid in defence.

18. Alan Ala’alatoa – 6
On at 52 with his buddy Sio, made 9 tackles in 28 minutes and was solid at scrum time.

19. Nick Frost – 6
On at 59 and conceded a penalty straight away at a maul. Nice save on the line to pivot, spin and get back in the field of play in the 78th minute. Seven tackles in 21 minutes is a fine effort. He’s quite an enigmatic player who may have his best ahead.

20. Rory Scott – 5
On at 65 and showed his speed and tenacity.

21. Tom Hooper – 5
On at 73 and battered away.

22. Ryan Lonergan – 7
On at 59 and kept up the outstanding pressure exerted from scrum-half. He was very accurate and showed some good game management.

23. Ollie Sapsford – 5
On at 73. The visitor from the Hawke’s Bay would have been happy to close the game out for his adopted team.

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