14-man Brumbies buck Bulls in famous win
BEING a man down for almost 20 minutes has failed to stop the Brumbies from recording a famous 38-28 Super Rugby victory over the Bulls.
The ACT team snapped a five-game losing streak in style, running over the top of the South African franchise in Pretoria with only 14 men.
The Brumbies' hopes of bringing up their fourth win of the season looked shattered when hooker Folau Fainga'a was red-carded in the 63rd minute for a headbutt on Bulls debutant Matthys Basson.
It was a case of deja vu for the Brumbies who lost star lock Rory Arnold to a send-off in last week's 42-24 defeat to the Lions.
They were only one point down when Fainga'a was given his marching orders, but star Bulls five-eighth Handre Pollard extended the lead with a penalty goal immediately.
But instead of fading, the Brumbies lifted in a stunning attacking display inspired by fullback Tom Banks' superb running try in the 72nd minute. Banks' try, which was converted by Wharenui Hawera off the bench, will go down as one of the best of the season as he dodged and weaved his way through the Bulls' defence.
The former Queensland Red had his best game for the Brumbies since switching clubs last year in a performance sure to catch the eye of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
Unheralded winger Andrew Muirhead sealed the deal four minutes later by giving the Brumbies a matchwinning 10-point advantage.
The Brumbies played some of their most free-flowing rugby of the season as Kyle Godwin, Lachlan McCaffrey and Fainga'a all crossed for tries. Captain Christian Lealiifano said he was thrilled his team was able to capitalise on their opportunities.
"Trying to create as many chances as you can and once you get those chances try to finish them off," Lealiifano said.
"We're trying to improve our defence again and it's something we're constantly working on."
For the Bulls, Pollard, Roelof Smit and Johnny Kotze nabbed five-pointers in a performance that sees them at the bottom of the South African conference.
"I think (today's result) showed we can't play for 60 minutes, it's an 80-minute game and we leaked a couple of easy tries at the end," Bulls captain Burger Odendaal said.
"We have to go back to the drawing board, our mauls didn't go fast so we'll have to fix it." The Brumbies have jumped ahead of the Reds into third in the Australian conference, but they remain well behind Melbourne and the NSW Waratahs.
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