The ACT Brumbies stayed in the race for the Australian conference with a lively 37-10 bonus point Super Rugby win over the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra on Saturday.
The Brumbies’ six-try romp was a stark contrast to their last home win against the Coastal Sharks three weeks ago with far less kicking and an intent to run the ball.
Last season’s finalists moved to within three points of the NSW Waratahs in the Australian conference and fourth overall as Super Rugby heads into a three-week international season break.
It was a positive Brumbies outfit that raced to a 17-3 lead inside 16 minutes with three tries, two of them to Wallaby back Matt Toomua.
Scrum-half Nic White was also impressive with accurate passing and sniping runs to set up several tries ahead of the Wallabies’ first Test against France in Brisbane next weekend.
Pat McCabe, Clyde Rathbone and Fotu Auelua were brought into the Brumbies’ starting side to boost the attack and coach Stephen Larkham’s selection move paid dividends.
The Brumbies’ willingness to run the ball from their own half was rewarded with a four-try bonus point in the opening 30 minutes.
It took the home side just three minutes to get first points with Toomua slipping under Tom English’s tackle out wide after more than a dozen phases.
The Rebels replied with a penalty, before Brumbies fullback McCabe burst over for a 12-3 lead in the 14th minute.
Toomua picked up his second two minutes later off a White line break, before prop Scott Sio scored his first try of the season in the 30th minute to secure the bonus point.
The Brumbies picked up where they left off after halftime, with lock Sam Carter burrowing over for a 32-3 lead.
The Rebels finally got the upper hand in an epic scrum battle, and Brumbies prop Ben Alexander was yellow carded with 13 minutes to go.
The Rebels made the most of their numerical advantage with a try to captain Scott Higginbotham, but the Brumbies capped off a great night with a try to replacement Leon Power in the final minute.
Goalkicker Christian Lealiifano continued to struggle, managing two conversions and a penalty from seven attempts, while captain Ben Mowen went off with a cut under his eye in the 50th minute.
The Rebels slipped back to overall 13th spot following the loss and behind the Queensland Reds in last spot in the Australian conference.