Winger Joe Tomane scored a hat-trick of tries as ACT Brumbies qualified for the Super 15 semi-finals by defeating Western Stormers 39-19 in Cape Town Saturday.
New Zealand-born rugby league convert Tomane wreaked havoc in the opening half of the play-off at Newlands stadium, scoring three tries within 25 minutes of the kick-off.
Prop Scott Sio barged over for a fourth try for the Australian outfit and the visitors led 24-6 at half-time.
The South Africans fared better early in the second half and twice got within eight points, but never looked like snatching victory.
No. 8 Ita Vaea and full-back Jesse Mogg also crossed the try-line for the Brumbies and fly-half Christian Lealiifano kicked three conversions and a penalty.
Mogg scored when his side were two men short after winger Henry Speight was red-carded for a dangerous tackle and flanker Scott Fardy yellow-carded for a professional foul.
And the Brumbies won the only tight-head of the scrum battle when packing down a man short in the closing stages.
Stormers fared poorly at the line-outs, failing to secure possession from seven of their throws.
The hosts also came off second best at the breakdowns with several Brumbies’ tries stemming from turn-over ball.
Brumbies are away to league winners Wellington Hurricanes next Saturday in one of two Australia-versus-New Zealand semi-finals.
Defending champions NSW Waratahs later host Otago Highlanders, who defeated fellow New Zealanders Waikato Chiefs 24-14 in the first play-off.
Fly-half Demetri Catrakilis converted a try by full-back Cheslin Kolbe and kicked four penalty goals for the Stormers.
The home side suffered a major pre-match blow when veteran flanker Schalk Burger was ruled out by a groin injury.
“I had a lot of fun out there and you live to play in these sort of games,” said man-of-the-match Tomane.
Brumbies hooker and skipper Stephen Moore added: “This was a special win and I am so proud of our performance. We played really well.”
Stormers skipper Juan de Jongh said failure to dominate the breakdowns cost the Cape Town franchise.
“We struggled at the breakdowns and could not build phases. The late withdrawal of Schalk (Burger) did not help.”
A grubber kick by scrum-half Nic White set up Tomane for his first try on three minutes and hard-running forwards featured prominently in the build-up to his second.
His third was the easiest as he darted down the left wing with the Stormers defence asleep.
Raw power earned Sio his try and Lealiifano slotted two first-half conversions while all the Stormers could muster was two Catrakilis penalties.
Kolbe intercepted a Matt Toomua pass to score Stormers’ lone try and Catrakilis converted and kicked a penalty.
Lealiifano and Catrakilis exchanged penalties and the Brumbies were 27-19 ahead midway through the second half.
Vaea used his strength to dot down and Lealiifano converted to effectively end the match as a contest.
The late try in the corner by Mogg was particularly satisfying given the Australians’ numerical disadvantage.