A breathtaking effort by Rob Valetini has helped the Brumbies take down a New Zealand opponent for the second week in a row, knocking out the Hurricanes 42-25 in Canberra.
Valetini’s 33 minute classic came after he kicked the ball from his own half, burned two Hurricanes opponents and finished it off with his outstretched hand, giving his side a lead that would blow them away in a massive second half.
The win improves the Brumbies to 9-1 for the Super Rugby Pacific season, taking an impressive 2-0 start to their schedule against Kiwi sides.
They will face the Chiefs (fourth) and Crusaders (third) over the next two weeks in what will be a real pressure test for their title candidacy.
Of his contender of the year, Valetini said he was looking for more distance in the defense of the Brumbies than he thought about scoring.
“I was quite shocked when I got there, I thought I was going to see someone come in from the side,” he said.
After falling behind early in the second half, the Brumbies’ rolling maul produced a try for Lachie Lonergan before flanker Jahrome Brown, who was impressive throughout, took advantage of superb team play.
It looked like they had broken the Hurricanes’ backs a few minutes later when Nic White’s clever play enabled Tom Banks to cross for a 35-20 lead.
Hurricanes substitute Billy Proctor pulled back some points 14 minutes from time, but the Brumbies sealed the win late when Hudson Creighton broke through to score.
Captain Nic White said the win was another big step forward.
“The things we talked about, the lessons from Trans-Tasman last year, it’s good to see them working for us, but we’re going to have to evolve again and go to another level because… get easier from now on .
“So it’s a good win, but it’s just a round game.”
The Brumbies made an early 9-3 break on three penalties before Peter Umaga-Jensen scored the first try of the game with a close dive in the 27th minute as the Canes took the lead.
Salesi Rayasi had burst through the Brumbies’ line to start the second half and give the Canes the lead, but they couldn’t withstand the Brumbies’ barrage.
The Hurricanes are now 5-5 for the season.
The Brumbies victory follows Waratahs’ shocking win over the Crusaders on Saturday night and the Reds’ narrow defeat to the Chiefs on Friday as evidence that the significant gap between the nations’ franchises may be narrowing.
Australian teams have won three out of eight in trans-Tasman competitions so far this year.