MELBOURNE, May 12 (Reuters) - The ACT Brumbies shrugged off their “boring” reputation in a 33-0 demolition of the Sunwolves in Canberra on Sunday to snatch top spot in the Australian Conference.
Criticised during the week for their stodgy, maul-focused attack, the Brumbies ran in five quality tries to secure a bonus point in the twilight game at Canberra Stadium.
Returning from a knee injury, Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani was dominant for the Brumbies, while winger Henry Speight scored a brace of tries in the first half and gave away another in the second in a welcome return to form.
The Brumbies felt unfairly maligned during the week after former Wallaby turned TV pundit Justin Harrison called them “pedestrian” for scoring three of their four tries from driving mauls during their win over the Auckland Blues.
But with Kuridrani proving a midfield menace and the Sunwolves leaving defensive holes all over the ground, the Brumbies had no need to lean on the tactic and instead used speed and flair to get their five-pointers.
“Tevita was outstanding but (it was) all from our set piece, from our forwards and the pressure they applied up front,” said Brumbies captain Christian Lealiifano.
“It was really nice to get some tries there and play the way we did but more importantly it was really nice to keep them to zero (points) as well.”
The cellar-dwelling Sunwolves battled hard to score in the second half but were denied by stout, try-line defence and squandered a number of chances with errant kicking on attack.
The Brumbies’ fourth win in five games saw them leapfrog the Melbourne Rebels into top spot, a point clear of the Victorian team.
Kuridrani set up three of the Brumbies’ tries and got his side off to a flying start.
He broke the Sunwolves’ lines twice to put Speight over in the 13th minute and fed scrumhalf Joe Powell for their second try three minutes later with another blistering dash down the right flank.
Flyhalf Lealiifano set up Speight’s second try with a long, looping pass to the right corner before the Brumbies went to the sheds 19-0 in front at halftime.
After the re-start, Speight soon broke through the Sunwolves’ negligible defence and darted toward the left corner before passing inside to Tom Banks for their fourth try in the 52nd minute.
Kuridrani capped a brilliant return with a sumptuous, lofted off-load that put Pete Samu through a hole, and the loose forward thundered over in the 65th minute to complete the rout. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)