‘It sucks, quite frankly’- Sam Cane laments home loss to strong, clinical Brumbies

It was dewy, it was physical, it was a hit-out between well-matched opponents clearly respectful of their opponents’ ability. It wasn’t overly pretty.

But for two teams who believe – and with justification – that they’ll contend at the pointy end of Super Rugby Pacific season ’22, the Chiefs-Brumbies game at Hamilton on Saturday night was played with finals-like intensity.

And after 80 minutes it was the Brumbies 38 who were more clinical (and ultimately better) than the not-disgraced Chiefs 28.

“They’re ruthless in that red zone, the Brumbies,” Stan Sport caller Justin Marshall observed after Noah Lolesio had ‘taken the points’ following a multi-phase incursion.

“Every time they’ve been down there they’ve come back with points.”

That they did. And if there was a knock on them, it was a hesitancy to try for five and seven points when three was a gift. And thus the Chiefs were never put away.

Until they were.

The game was busted open with nine minutes to go when Rob Valetini did a Rob Valetini thing: he hit a hole, stormed into space like a center-three-quarter, drew the fullback and put Rory Scott over untouched.

Lolesio’s conversion made the margin 17 points. A late Chiefs try made it 10 again. The 66 points scored might suggest an open, free-running fixture. Yet it wasn’t, not really. The Chiefs were in the game for 73 minutes and only ever 7-10 points behind their opponents.

And when the Brumbies had their chances, they took them.

Chiefs captain Sam Cane said his team “got what we expected”.

“The Brumbies have been the benchmarks in a lot of ways. While our handling skills weren’t good. And they were good enough to capitalise,” he said.

“We were always just chasing it. It sucks, quite frankly.”

Conversely, Brumbies captain Nic White was “very happy”.

“We spoke about intensity. We’ve had a couple of good wins at home but it’s different over here,” he said after the win.

“We’ll look at a few things. But I was very proud of the mindset of rolling up our sleeves and getting it done. They threw everything and the kitchen sink at us.

“It’s a cliché but it all starts up front. Playing behind our back, as a halfback it’s a dream come true. They put their bodies on the line.”

In chill, still but slightly dewy conditions in Hamilton the Brumbies opened the scoring in the sixth minute when White scored after multiple phases and pressure.

The Chiefs hit back immediately, after Alex Nankivell fell on a bouncing ball following strong work off a scrum by center Quinn Tupaea.

Valetini did another Valetini thing when he charged down, charged after the ball, toed ahead and just failed to plant in a contest with Bryn Gatland.

The Brumbies scrum made a statement in the 15th minute when their young front row won a shove and a penalty from a 5-metre scrum that was Chiefs’ loosehead and feed.

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