TOKYO – Connal McInerney scored a hat-trick off the bench Saturday as the Brumbies overpowered Japan's Sunwolves 42-19 to boost their Finals chances.
The bonus-point victory, punctuated by a perfect six-from-six from the boot of captain Christian Lealiifano lifted the Canberra club above the Rebels at the top of Super Rugby's Australian Conference with two games left in the regular season.
"It's nice to get the win but we had to work really hard," said Lealiifano.
"There's plenty for us to look at – obviously in controlling the game a bit better. We got a bit loose and put ourselves under a little bit of pressure so we will learn from it."
The Brumbies were jolted at the start when Hosea Saumaki burst clear to put the Sunwolves ahead in the first minute of their final home game of the season.
But the visitors quickly hit back through Peter Samu and Irae Simone, before Thomas Banks ran in a highlight try after a deft kick from Lealiifano had triggered panic in the Sunwolves ranks.
Semisi Masirewa ran in a superb solo try before the break to reduce the deficit for the home side, only for replacement McInerney to make an instant impact for the Brumbies, twice crashing over after a pair of carbon-copy driving mauls.
Masirewa had kept the game interesting, the marauding Fijian setting up Jamie Booth for a third Sunwolves try before McInerney completed his treble with eight minutes left.
The Sunwolves, who will be dumped from Super Rugby by competition organisers after next season, once again paid dearly for their ill-discipline as they slipped to a 12th defeat of the year.
"Once again it just wasn't quite good enough," said Parker, summing up another tough season for the Tokyo-based side.
"There were some outstanding bits of play from us and the boys tackled their hearts out. But we struggled around the scrums and with penalties. Credit to the Brumbies – they're a really good side and they put us under pressure."AFP