The ACT Brumbies have done it! They were the form team all season, but their 28-23 victory against the Queensland Reds on Saturday night saw them finally claim some silverware.
The hosts started the better of the two sides, controlling the tempo and dominating the play. Folau Fainga’a scored yet another try at GIO Stadium from a driving maul, before Andy Muirhead crossed over 10 minutes later with a fantastic showing of individual brilliance.
But the Reds managed to claw their way back from 15-3 down, with the Brumbies only leading by two the break.
The Brumbies took back control early in the second, with Tom Banks scoring before Filipo Daugunu was yellow carded. Despite a late fightback from the Queenslanders, the Brumbies, led by 20-year-old flyhalf Noah Lolesio, were rightful champions.
Here’s how RugbyPass rated the 2020 Super Rugby AU Champions, the Brumbies.
- Scott Sio – 6.5/10
Sio was dominated by Taniela Tupou at the scrum, conceding a few scrum penalties throughout the opening forty. He did run with intent when he got his chance, but the scrum is the cornerstone of his position, and he struggled there.
- Folau Fainga’a – 8
One of the best on ground. Was nearly perfect throwing into the lineout, and was effective roaming around the park. It can’t not be mentioned: he scored another try, from another driving maul. He generally had a great work rate.
- Allan Alaalatoa – 7
The captain led by example all night. Running with purpose, or by putting his body on the line, the Brumbies looked to Alaalatoa and he delivered.
- Murray Douglas – 7
Put his head in some pretty dark places on Saturday. Great running when he got the chance, but it was in the more traditional areas for a second-rower where he made his mark.
- Cadeyrn Neville – 7.5
Another workhorse for the Brumbies who made his mark on the game, especially early on when the hosts had plenty of front-foot ball. Had the equal second-most tackles of any Brumbies player with 11, but also pressured the Reds lineout all night. The Reds were so poor at lineout largely because the Brumbies and Neville were so effective.
- Lachlan McCaffrey – 8
McCaffrey was one of the best players on the park. His work rate was very impressive; he was everywhere both in attack, be that running the ball or in support, and in defence. The flanker had a game-high 12 carries, and also had eight tackles. But what makes those stats especially impressive: he was subbed off with 30 minutes to play. Wow.
- Will Miller – 7
Miller made a team high 14 tackles, and also secured one turnover. Another underrated player who hasn’t done the Brumbies wrong throughout this Super Rugby AU campaign.
- Pete Samu – 7
Did his job in both attack and defence, with some strong runs particularly impressing. Samu also applied plenty of pressure onto the Reds lineout which went a long way to delivering the trophy to Canberra.
- Joe Powell – 7
Powell controlled the Brumbies tempo very well, using his pace to match the speed that his side were trying to play at – especially early.
- Noah Lolesio – 8.5
Man of the Match. Any controversy about naming a 20-year-old at flyhalf for your first final since 2014, let alone a player who had been injured for most of the Super Rugby AU season. He controlled the match with maturity well beyond his years. He sucked in four defenders that allowed Andy Muirhead to cross for his try mid-way during the first-half, and also kicked well, scoring 13 points off the boot including a drop goal. The battle for the Wallabies number 10 jersey takes another twist! He’s certainly presented a case.
- Tom Wright – 7
Was a quiet night by Wright’s standards, not much ball seemed to come his way. Had six carries for 27 metres.
- Irae Simone – 7
Simone struggled to control the game as he normally does, but still impressed. The 25-year-old held the ball up just enough to draw in Liam Wright, which created a wide gap for Tom Banks to run through for his try – albeit still with plenty of work to do. Also had 11 tackles which was the most of any Brumbies back.
- Tevita Kuridrani – 7
Kuridrani was a shock omission from Dave Rennie’s Wallabies plans, but he responded in fine fashion in Saturday’s Final. Every time he ran the ball he looked dangerous, and was a consistent tackler as well.
- Andy Muirhead – 7.5
Muirhead is one of the most underrated wingers in Australian rugby. Another Queenslander playing for the Brumbies, the winger scored a try in the 26th minute with a fantastic showing of his individual brilliance. He beat four defenders on his way to the chalk, including Taniela Tupou.
- Tom Banks – 7.5
Cometh the hour, cometh the man – this might’ve just been Tom Banks best match in a Brumbies jumper throughout Super Rugby AU. Banks was a leader both in attack and structurally around the part, kicking effectively, comfortable under the high ball but also at his elusive best when taking the Reds on. The Brisbane-born fullback crossed for a try just after halftime, showing plenty of pace and fast feet to evade the few Reds jerseys that were crowding him. Is there a better fullback in Australia?
- Connal McInerney – 6.5
- James Slipper – 6.5
- Tom Ross – N/A
- Nick Frost – 5.5
- Rob Valentini – 6
- Nic White – 7
Not a bad one-two punch for the Brumbies, replacing a Wallaby halfback with another. Came on and controlled the tempo, also exited well when his team needed him to late.
- Bayley Kuenzle – N/A
- Solomone Kata – 5.5
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