Jake's Brumbies tame 'Canes
Jake White (Gallo Images)
Wellington - Rookie flyhalf Zack Holmes proved the difference as the Brumbies stormed back in the second half to defeat the Hurricanes 37-25 on Friday.
Both sides scored four tries apiece but the Brumbies secured the away win through the boot of Holmes, making his run-on debut for the Brumbies after injuries to playmakers Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano.
The 21-year-old kicked four conversions and three penalties, as well as scoring a try, to give the Brumbies their first victory in Wellington since 2003 and cement their place at the top of the Australian Conference.
"He just played to his potential tonight and I'm so glad for him because he was under a lot of pressure, there was a lot of chat, and he performed," Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen said.
The Hurricanes were leading 25-16 early in the second half, making the defeat even more painful as they capitulated.
"We just made a lot of mistakes and that came back to haunt us," captain Conrad Smith said.
Holmes settled his nerves with an early penalty to put the Brumbies on the board, before an incisive run from winger Joseph Tomane put the Australians on the attack and he set up Fotu Auelua to force his way over the tryline.
The home side hit back through scrumhalf TJ Perenara, who darted from the back of a ruck for a try after solid work from the Hurricanes forwards to get the ball into the danger zone.
After another penalty apiece, the Hurricanes looked certain to score a second try as Jason Eaton charged down the wing, only for Michael Hooper to bundle him over the sideline with a desperate diving tackle.
The Brumbies made a mess of the resulting lineout, though, and Victor Vito touched down between the posts after combining with Perenara in a slick set-piece from the Hurricanes scrum.
Taylor converted to put the Hurricanes ahead for the first time after 30 minutes and the score remained at 15-13 until the break.
Heavy rain after the restart did not discourage the Hurricanes from running the ball and Perenara crossed for his second try on 43 minutes, jinking between three defenders.
Holmes potted another penalty to keep the Brumbies within touching distance before prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen came off the bench for the Hurricanes to score a try with his first touch of the ball.
With the hosts threatening to run away with the game, the Brumbies clawed back a try through an unlikely source when lock Scott Fardy left the defence flat-footed and offloaded to fellow forward Sam Carter for a five-pointer.
The Australians regained the lead after a Hurricanes error at the scrum, Hooper stealing the ball and barging over the tryline, with Holmes converting to make it 30-25 for the Brumbies.
Holmes then chipped in with a try of his own, bursting through a gap after some eye-catching build-up play from the Brumbies back line and adding the conversion.
The Brumbies picked up a full-house of five points for their victory and consolidated their lead atop the Australian Conference. They remained third in the Combined standings.
The Hurricanes picked up a single bonus point for scoring four tries or more, but stayed fourth and eighth in the New Zealand Conference and Overall log respectively.
In next weekend's Round 14 action, the Brumbies host the defending champion Reds in Canberra, while the Hurricanes welcome the Rebels to Wellington.
15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields,5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reg Goodes
Substitutes: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Jack Lam, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Beauden Barrett, 22 Jayden Hayward
15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Fotu Auelua, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ben Mowen (captain), 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander
Substitutes: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Peter Kimlin, 19 Ita Vaea, 20 Nic White, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Tevita Kuridrani