Super Rugby

Lonergan breaks Rebels’ hearts as Brumbies go top

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The Brumbies edged the Melbourne Rebels 27-24 in an action-packed Round Three Super Rugby AU clash at GIO Stadium, Canberra.

Ryan Lonergan wrote the headlines, coming off the bench to set-up Tom Banks’ go-ahead try before slotting a monster penalty –– four minutes into time added on –– to win the game for the Brumbies.

Matt To’omua was flawless from the kicking tee, scoring all his team’s points from eight penalty-goals. It was not enough for the Rebels, who failed to score a try, which proved their undoing.

Despite playing for 30 minutes without a full quota, Dan McKellar’s unbeaten Super Rugby AU champions somehow stayed in the game.


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They scored three tries while shutting out a blunt Melbourne attack to extend their lead at the top of the Super Rugby table. The win is also their 18th in 19 home games and the eighth win on the bounce.

The Brumbies, who had captain Allan Alaalatoa red-carded on the stroke of halftime for dangerous play, trailed by two at the break after four To’omua penalties.

Winger Andy Muirhead saw yellow for the hosts, while Rebels’ hooker James Hanson also spent 10 minutes on the sidelines in a game littered with penalties, ill-discipline, and dangerous tackles.

Several other players were lucky not to be carded for an array of different infractions.

Noah Lolesio set-up Len Ikitau’s 20th-minute try with a neat grubber, converted the score and added a penalty as McKellar’s men trailed.

To’omua, who was flawless from the kicking-tee, kicked four penalties to put his side ahead.

Despite being a man down, the Brumbies struck eight minutes after the restart. They were awarded a penalty try after the Melbourne forwards infringed one too many times in the red zone.

Hanson received a yellow card for his part in the illegal disruption of the Brumbies’ driving maul, but it did not affect his side.

To’omua continued to punish the ill-disciplined Brumbies, slotting three more goals as the Rebels regained a one-point lead going into the last quarter.

Super Rugby AU Round Three Video Highlights: Brumbies vs Melbourne Rebels at GIO Stadium, Canberra

Dave Wessels’ charges did let up; indeed, they began to dominate proceedings. Muirhead went to the naughty step, allowing To’omua to extend his side’s lead to four with 10 minutes remaining.

Lolesio left the field and Lonergan entered the fray. From the restart, the Brumbies charged forward before Lonergan’s magic opened up the blue wall.

Banks, running a beautiful angle, took the scrumhalf’s nifty inside pass, and ghosted through to score under the posts. Lonergan converted to make it 24-21.

However, the Rebels levelled with four minutes to play when To’omua added his eighth penalty-goal.

With the clock winding down, the Brumbies worked their way from their goal-line to just inside the opposition’s half.

Three minutes after the hooter sounded, Richard Hardwick gave away another needless penalty, allowing Lonergan a chance to win the game from distance.

Up stepped the whipper-snapper, who slotted the near 60-metre angled kick to seal the deal.

Cue scenes as the home players mobbed the 22-year-old halfback.

The opening quarter of the game was dominated by the referee’s whistle and the kicker’s boots

To’omua and Lolesio traded penalties as the Rebels took a 3-9 lead before the Brumbies crashed over for their first try. Lolesio was at the heart of the try.

The Brumbies’ usual dominant maul did not function at 100%. This is, perhaps, because hooker Connal McInerney went down in the ninth minute after falling awkwardly trying to tackle Pone Faamausili.

The opposition repelled the home team’s maul, but scrumhalf Nic White spread to Lolesio.

The standoff put in a delicate little grubber for Ikitau, who latched onto the rolling ball to score. The playmaker converted to give his side the lead for the first time in the match.

Both sets of forwards struggled with their lineouts, especially inside the opposition’s 22, killing all attacking momentum.

Melbourne, however, would take the points at every opportunity, while the home team continued to look to their driving maul.

Alaalatoa saw red, a minute before halftime, and To’omua took the points to put the visitors ahead as the teams went into the shed.

Brumbies come out firing despite being down at halftime and down to 14 men, but To’omua’s boot kept them in check

Two minutes after the restart, Lucio Sordoni got lucky. His high shoulder hit on White went without a card, but Lolesio could not add three more.

The ACT pack began to squeeze the Victorians’ scrum, winning a string of penalties. One such scrum-penalty led to Banks kicking to the corner to set-up a driving maul.

Melbourne could not stop the maul or the infringements. Referee Damon Murphy had enough, awarding a penalty try and a yellow card to Hanson.

But after another botched restart by the capital side. It allowed To’omua to immediately cut the gap to 17-15.

Marika Koroibete took a quick-tap penalty and raced away; however, the referee called him back because he took the tap in front of the mark.

To’omua put his team back ahead and then extended after Muirhead’s yellow card to make it a four-point game.

The Brumbies struck straight after the restart thanks to Lonergan’s vision and Banks’ smart running to again put the hosts ahead.

As ever seemed the case, the McKellar’s side gave away another shot at goal, which the visitors did not turn down. To’omua levelled with time running out before Lonegran’s heroics broke Melbourne’s hearts.

Final Score: Brumbies 27 (10) Rebels 24 (12)

Scorers

Brumbies
Tries – Ikitau, Penalty try, Banks
Pen – Lolesio, R. Lonergan
Con – Lolesio, R. Lonergan
Drop –
Cards – Alaalatoa (Red, 41′), Muirhead (Yellow, 68′)

Rebels
Tries –
Pen – To’omua (8)
Con –
Drop –
Cards – Hanson (Yellow, 49′)

Match Officials
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 1: Jordan Way
Assistant Ref 2: Nic Berry
TMO: Brett Cronan

Teams

Brumbies

15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Connal McInerney, 1 Scott Sio

Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 James Tucker, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Solomone Kata

Melbourne Rebels

15 Tom Pincus, 14 Lachlan Anderson, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Joshua Kemeny, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Pone Faamausili, 2 James Hanson, 1 Cabous Eloff

Replacements:
16 Ed Craig, 17 Isaac Aedo Kailea, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Robert Leota, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Frank Lomani, 23 Glen Vaihu

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