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Fainga’a treble helps Brumbies beat Blues

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Folau Fainga’a’s hat-trick helped the Brumbies to a 26-21 victory over the Blues at GIO Stadium, Canberra.

The Brumbies have been a force at home this season, winning six of their past seven matches while ending a three-game losing streak against the Blues.

Fainga’a’s treble came from three driving mauls as he increased his Super Rugby tally to 10 for the season.

The 23-year-old is a try machine, racking up five-pointers willy-nilly from the back of the maul

Leon MacDonald’s men had no answer to the Brumbies’ set-piece, which is arguably the most ruthless in the tournament; it unstoppable from close range.

The Blues front row had a nightmare.

It was their seventh away defeat on the trot, not helped by their forwards imploding as the Brumbies battered them.

Both props Alex Hodgman and Ofa Tu’ungafasi were yellow-carded, and the pack conceded four scrum-penalties as the home forwards took control after a slow start.

Visitors started strong but Brumbies fought back

The Blues raced to a 12 nil lead inside 10 minutes. A double from Thomas Faiane and Caleb Clarke got the ball rolling for the Kiwis.

Faiane gathered Melani Nanai’s offload after an eight-phase build-up and sped away to score near the corner.

Caleb Clarke, less than two minutes later, read Christian Lealiifano’s long, floated pass in yesterday’s newspaper

He plucked the standoff’s pass out of the air and sprinted under the posts. Black added the extras.

The Brumbies – finally – strung a long sustained attack, together.

They went 18 phases, but Auckland held them at arm’s length.

Super Rugby Video Highlights: Brumbies versus Blues, Round 12, GIO Stadium, Canberra

The home team ran out of ideas, so Joe Powell went to the boot.

Tom Cusack took off after the grubber but he was hit high and late by Alex Hodgman, who after a TMO review, was sin-binned for his effort.

The Brumbies went to their driving maul – a weapon of mass destruction, this season – and rumbled over the chalk with ease.

Fainga’a got up with the ball for his sixth try in six games at GIO Stadium and his eighth Super Rugby score of the campaign.

Black, who had an off day from the tee, slotted a penalty soon afterwards to make it 5-15 after 23 minutes.

Dan McKellar’s men were getting into the game.

They put together another sustained series of attacks, one of which led to James Slipper’s score before halftime.

The Brumbies went to their maul, but the Blues’ pack defended the set-piece.

The visitors, however, leaked five penalties, two from the scrum before Slipper collected a wayward offload and dived over the chalk from close range.

Lealiifano’s conversion brought up 900 points in Super Rugby, the 31-year-old becomes the 12th player to do so.

The Blues survived a late scare when Powell wriggled over, but Tom Robinson held-up the scrumhalf.

Front row woes continue for Blues after the interval

The second half started where the first ended, with the Brumbies pack dominating their opponents.

McKellar’s men had 80% possession and 100% territory as his side obliterated the Blues.

The visitors conceded 11 penalties in a row from before the break to a quarter of an hour afterwards.

Ofa Tu’ungafasi was yellow carded for a maul infringement as his evening went from bad to worse.

Another scrum-penalty – the fifth – resulted in another maul.

The Blues were lucky not to lose another player to the naughty step, but the conceded the five-pointer.

Fainga’a flopped over for his second after his pack bulldozed their opposition.

Harry Plummer kicked two penalties to put his side in front with 15 minutes to play as the New Zealand franchise ran down the clock, waiting to get back to their full quota.

The Kiwis had used the clock, well.

They actually played better after Tu’ungafasi’s card, scoring six points.

MacDonald’s side did the right thing in taking the points on offer and to give themselves a breather after all the defending their forwards had to do in the third quarter.

However, threes don’t win Super Rugby games. It didn’t help that Black left eight points on the field in the first half.

McKellar’s side regained control after a short period of sustained Auckland pressure and killed the game with 13 minutes remaining.

Faing’a’a crossed for his hat-trick after another expertly executed driving maul.

The Brumbies held on, despite some late pressure from the tourists, but the victory never looked in doubt.

Final Score: Brumbies 26 (12) Blues 21 (15)

Scorers

Brumbies
Tries – Fainga’a (3), Slipper
Pen –
Con – Lealiifano (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Blues
Tries – Faiane, Clarke
Pen – Black, Plummer (2)
Con – Black
Drop –
Cards – Hodgman (Yellow, 19′), Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Yellow, 50′)

Match Officials
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2: Angus Gardner
TMO: Ian Smith

Teams

Brumbies

15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Lealiifano (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Tom Cusack, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.

Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Murray Douglas, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Tom Wright, 23 Andy Muirhead.

Blues

15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Thomas Faiane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson (captain), 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Gerard Cowley Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Alex Hodgman.

Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Levi Aumua.

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