Brumbies snap two-year Kiwi drought to beat Hurricanes and stay alive
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Brumbies snap two-year Kiwi drought to beat Hurricanes and stay alive

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The two-year Kiwi curse is over. The Super Rugby season is alive. And the ACT Brumbies finally showed they've got the skill the match their passion.

The Brumbies roared back to life with a stunning victory against the Wellington Hurricanes at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night, coming from behind at half-time to win 24-12.

It was the first time the Brumbies had beaten a New Zealand opponent in 855 days and keeps them in contention for an unlikely bid to win a finals wildcard in the last two rounds of the season.

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But more importantly, in particular for the 6821 fans, it restored some badly dented pride and will help them earn respect after winning their last home game of the season.

The second-half performance was one of the best efforts in recent memory and the margin could have been bigger if Isi Naisarani, Kyle Godwin and Andy Muirhead had managed to finish off brilliant attacking moves.

The Brumbies are now six points behind the Melbourne Rebels and temporarily moved into ninth on the overall ladder before the overnight games in South Africa and Argentina.

They've probably left their title run too late. But at least there is still an outside chance of forcing their way into the top eight if they win games on the road against the Waikato Chiefs and NSW Waratahs, and results go their way.

That's why the Brumbies were reserved in celebrations. They were bursting with pride on the inside after silencing the chirpy Hurricanes. But they were measured in their review.

"It was certainly enjoyable. I thought our defence was outstanding tonight," said coach Dan McKellar.

"We had a plan to come here and play ... just happy for the group. If this was a last home game, it was a good way to finish the season.

Andy Muirhead sealed the win with a try in the 77th minute.

Andy Muirhead sealed the win with a try in the 77th minute.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

"We spoke about not fearing failure. Back ourselves. Don't worry about the opposition. It's pleasing to get the monkey off the back with the New Zealand teams, now we've got to go over and try to win one in Hamilton."

The fact the Brumbies had already turned their attention to the clash against the Chiefs in New Zealand next weekend shows they haven't given up on an end-of-season run to the play-offs.

But they deserve to bask in the glow of an impressive win, which at times had the reasonably-small crowd roaring like there was 20,000 fans in the stands on a chilly night.

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They dominated possession in the second half, finishing the game with 64 per cent of possession.

The had chances to knock out the Hurricanes. In the end they chipped away at the defensive line and finally got the killer blow when Muirhead crossed out wide with three minutes left.

"It was pretty pleasing. To put on a performance like that against a quality opposition ... and then to hear the crowd going off when you're making metres and breaks, it gives you an extra lift," said captain Christian Lealiifano.

"The key to our group has been staying focused on our growth. It's not about getting carried away. It's about staying grounded and turning up for another performance next week."

The Hurricanes threatened the blow the Brumbies off the park when they scored in the opening minutes via a brilliant piece of anticipation from TJ Perenara.

The Hurricanes skipper timed his run perfectly to intercept a Joe Powell pass in the Brumbies in-goal area to score the opener.

Everyone probably thought that was how the rest of the night would go. But the Brumbies were the next to score via Kyle Godwin and even when the Hurricanes struck again through Julian Savea, they never really had a hold of the game.

That gave the Brumbies hope and they chipped away, despite constant sledging from Perenara and referee Nick Briant's refusal to send a Hurricanes player to the sin bin for repeated infringements.

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A neck-roll cleanout on David Pocock is sure to be looked at by the review panel after Hurricanes grabbed his head and twisted it in an attempt to dislodge him from his breakdown position.

The Pocock incident has to be scrutinised, especially after rugby officials said they were cracking down on player safety following a dubious decision to suspend Israel Folau last week for a mid-air collision.

But the incident didn't overshadow the result and chief Hurricanes antagonist, Perenara, conceded his side was well below par.

To be fair, the Hurricanes were without a host of stars including Beauden Barrett, Brad Shields and Vaea Fifita.

"A credit to the Brumbies. They did the right things in the right areas. But ... we need to be more accurate in our skill set," Perenara said.

"I just think we're not playing great footy at the moment. We can control a lot of that."

Folau Faingaa, Rory Arnold and Muirhead all scored in the second half to lift the Brumbies to a thrilling win, but they did fall short of a crucial bonus point after bombing some opportunities.

The only sour note on the win was an injury to Scott Sio, with the Wallabies prop forced to leave the field after just 15 minutes. His availability will be determined in the coming days and the Brumbies could be bolstered by the return of Allan Alaalatoa, Sam Carter and Lachlan McCaffrey to play the Chiefs.

The Waratahs have all but sealed the Australian ticket to the finals, so the Brumbies need results to go their way and then win their two remaining games to be any hope of making the finals.

AT A GLANCE

Super Rugby: ACT BRUMBIES 24 (Kyle Godwin, Folau Faingaa, Rory Arnold, Andy Muirhead tries; Christian Lealiifano, Matt Lucas conversions) bt WELLINGTON HURRICANES 12 (TJ Perenara, Julian Savea tries; Jordie Barrett conversions) at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night. Referee: Nick Briant. Crowd: 6821.