Super Rugby Brumbies defeat Chiefs, Nic White

This article originally appeared on stuff.co.nz and is reproduced with permission

Mark the Brumbies down as serious Super Rugby Pacific title contenders.

Having knocked over the Highlanders and Hurricanes over the past two weeks, crossing the ditch to face the Chiefs in Hamilton was to provide the real litmus test.

And, in front of 10,821 at FMG Stadium Waikato on Saturday night, the home side was out-gunned 38-28 by the clinical Canberrans, who have soared to a 10-1 record in this competition, sitting behind only the table-topping Blues on the ladder.

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On the evidence of this victory against a Chiefs side who were looking for a fourth win on the bounce, they may well just be the real deal. It may have been four tries apiece, but the Brumbies were in control for the majority, despite being made to make 80 more tackles than the hosts.

Halfback and captain Nic White was inspirational in his hour, opening the scoring with a smart burst and later peeling off a crucial 50-22 kick, and he had many willing and able helpers around him.

Fellow Wallabies halves partner Noah Lolesio kicked 18 points off the tee, the two outside back Toms (Wright and Banks) were their usual dangerous selves, while the loose forwards trio of Rob Valetini, Jahrome Brown and Pete Samu yet again put in a massive display in the brutal exchange.

After White snuck like a thief in the night down the tiniest of short sides close to the line leaving Tupou Vaa’i looking like a fool at the back of the ruck, the visitors never found themselves behind, against a Chiefs team that will rue several handling errors, on the wrong end of an ugly turnovers count of 15-6.

Quinn Tupaea impressed in the touches he did get back in midfield and helped set up Alex Nankivell for the reply try, while impressive young halfback Cortez Ratima managed a second score in as many weeks, but in between that a huge Brumbies scrum saw them cash in off the rolling maul and they took an 18-14 advantage to halftime.

The visitors then shot out of the gates in the second stanza, winning an early turnover penalty then profiting with Wright sending Len Ikitau through a hole and all of a sudden the lead was 11.

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Needing something special, the Chiefs got just that near the hour-mark, when a close-range lineout resulted in a stunning try to a rampaging Pita Gus Sowakula, and all of a sudden the momentum made a switch towards the hosts.

A huge Brumbies counter-ruck soon later, and not long later a stray Emoni Narawa offload, let the air out of that balloon though, and the coffin was nailed shut in the final 10 minutes with Valetini storming through and putting Billy Pollard away.

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