PRETORIA – The Brumbies turned a man disadvantage into an impressive victory as they ran out 38-28 winners over the Bulls in their Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld, in Pretoria, on Saturday.
In the 62nd minute, and one point behind, the Brumbies saw hooker Folau Fainga'a red-carded for a headbutt. That appeared to be the turning point, as the visitors were galvanised into action as they out-scored their hosts 14-3 over the final 16 minutes of the encounter.
Earlier, Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard opening the scoring for the hosts in the fifth minute of the match after some strong running by wing Johnny Kotze set-up the try for his number 10. Pollard slotted the conversion to make it 7-0.
The Brumbies hit back immediately from the kick-off with the visitors putting together a couple of passes before centre Kyle Godwin dived over. Flyhalf Christian Lealiifano added the extra two to tie up the scores at 7-7.
The Brumbies hit the lead in the 17th minute through a Lealiifano penalty, to make it 10-7 to the visitors.
The Bulls were through for their second try moments later, with Kotze strongly involved again by creating space on the outside and the final pass falling to flank Roelof Smit who barged over for the try. Pollard was successful again with the extra two, to move his side into a 14-10 lead.
Straight after the break, the Brumbies regained the lead as they put together a couple of phases on the Bulls 22 before exposing a gap in their defence for flank Lachlan Mccaffrey to power his way over the line. Lealiifano nudged over the conversion to make it 17-14.
Pollard squared the match up with a penalty in the 47th minute, before Kotze sprinted away from the Brumbies defence three minutes later for the third Bulls try. Pollard this time missed, but the Bulls had gained a 22-17 lead.
He added another penalty in the 54th minute as the Bulls opened up an eight-point gap with their 25-17 lead.
The Brumbies struck back once more, after a number phases near the Bulls tryline they kept it tight as Fainga'a burst through a tackle to score. Lealiifano obliged with the conversion to make it a one-point game at 25-24.
Just past the hour mark, Fainga'a went from hero to villain as he headbutted Bulls replacement Matthys Basson. The Brumbies player was red-carded for his actions, which reduced his side to 14 men for the last 18 minutes of the clash.
Pollard extended the Bulls lead to four at 28-24 in the 64th minute with his third penalty.
In response Brumbies fullback Tom Banks spotted a gap just outside his own 22, and that was all he needed as he sprinted away from the Bulls defence for a superb try. Replacement flyhalf Wharenui Hawera nailed the conversion from a tight angle to send the Brumbies into a 31-28 lead.
The Brumbies again put together a flowing move in the Bulls half which released Andrew Muirhead on the wing, who out-paced the cover defence to score in the corner. Hawera made no mistake with the conversion to effectively seal the match as a contest at 38-28 with three minutes remaining.
Bulls 28 (14): Tries: Handre Pollard, Roelof Smit, Johnny Kotze. Conversions: Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (3).
Brumbies 38 (10) : Tries: Kyle Godwin, Lachlan Mccaffrey, Folau Fainga'a, Tom Banks, Andrew Muirhead. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (3), Wharenui Hawera (2). Penality: Lealiifano
African News Agency (ANA)