ACT BRUMBIES 29 (Jesse Mogg, Robbie Coleman, Tevita Kuridrani, Lachlan McCaffrey tries; Nic White 3 cons, pen) bt WELLINGTON HURRICANES 21 (TJ Perenara, Blade Thompson tries; Beauden Barrett 3 pens, con) at Westpac Stadium on Friday night. Referee: Craig Joubert. Crowd: 8396.
THE OPENING TRY
The Brumbies were dudded in the 30th minute when the referees refused to send a decision to the television match official. The Hurricanes sent the ball wide and winger Cory Jane appeared to have his foot on the touch line before passing the ball back inside, ending with TJ Perenara scoring the first try of the game. It gave the Hurricanes a 13-3 lead. The touch judge was adamant Perenara was fine. Referee Craig Joubert asked for confirmation. The touch judge confirmed and the try was awarded. It was a major blow just 10 minutes before half-time after the Hurricanes failed to capitalise on their early opportunities. Video reviews cop a bad reputation for being used too often. But why didn’t the referees check a try which was so close to the line?
MOGG GETS HIS MOJO BACK
A round-one horror mistake threatened to haunt Jesse Mogg’s third Super Rugby season. But he has hit back in the best possible way with some brilliant performances. Mogg dropped a kick and failed to clean up his fumble against the Queensland Reds in the opening game, allowing the Reds to clinch victory. But he has shown it hasn’t affected his confidence. Mogg scored the opener for the Brumbies with superb speed to slip through a gap and score untouched. Just minutes later, he set up the Brumbies’ second try with a slicing midfield run. Mogg cleaned up a loose ball, ran through broken field, chipped, regathered and spun out of tackles. It led to Robbie Coleman scoring just before half-time.
WHAT NECK BRACE?
Pat McCabe has been plagued by injuries over the past two years, breaking his neck twice since November 2012. There were fears for his career when he was taken to hospital in a neck brace less than a week ago. McCabe was devastated and his teammates were heartbroken. He had a head knock in the pre-season trials and needed stitches in his head after round one. But you wouldn’t know it after McCabe’s outstanding game on Friday night. He had 12 runs in the first 45 minutes for 176 metres and broke 10 tackles. Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham says the constant knocks have actually given McCabe more confidence in his neck. It’s showing in his on-field performances.
DO IT FOR POCOCK
Injured superstar David Pocock sent messages of support to the Brumbies before kick-off against the Hurricanes. Pocock had a knee reconstruction on Wednesday for the second time in 12 months. The Brumbies used his message to inspire them to a hard-fought victory. Pocock is one of the world’s best flankers. There were fears the Brumbies would suffer at the breakdown with Pocock out of action and George Smith saying he won’t be making a comeback to fill the role. But Wellington-born Brumby Jarrad Butler did a stellar job in his absence and the Brumbies were fierce at the breakdown. It was evident in the dying minutes when Scott Fardy made a super steal with the Hurricanes just five metres from the tryline and the game in the balance.
The Brumbies now turn their attention to the high-flying NSW Waratahs and Israel Folau. The Waratahs have won their opening two games and have been by far the best team this season. Folau has scored five tries in two games. The Brumbies have gained momentum with two wins from three games, setting up a massive rivalry contest. The Brumbies were the NSW rejects when Super Rugby started in 1996. But Waratahs coach Michael Cheika makes no secret about his team’s desire for revenge after being embarrassed in Canberra last season. Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua, playing his 50th game against the Hurricanes, was taken off after half-time with a shoulder injury. But the Brumbies are confident he will be fit to play NSW.