Weber hat-trick sets up Chiefs win
If you watched the first half, Australian Super Rugby teams may never beat their New Zealand counterparts again. But the second half gave Brumbies fans a glimmer of hope.
On the balance of the game, there’s still a way to go before the trans-Tasman drought might end, after the Chiefs beat the ACT Brumbies 38-26 in a trial on the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday night.
Australian Super Rugby teams lost all 26 games to Kiwi opponents last year, and the Chiefs were swarming all over the Brumbies in the first half with ball control proving a real problem for the ‘‘home’’ side.
Even the Brumbies’ website couldn’t cope with the Kiwi onslaught, crashing in the first half.
Chiefs halfback Brad Weber staked a claim for the No 9 jersey following Tawera Kerr-Barlow’s French defection with a first-half hat-trick that set up their 33-7 lead just after halftime.
From there the Brumbies ‘‘finishers’’ produced a second-half fightback with scrumhalf Matt Lucas showing some spark and Isi Naisarani showing some lightning speed when he finds some space.
Naisarani picked up a loose ball near halfway and dashed clear like a thoroughbred for an electric secondhalf try.
Brumbies inside centre Kyle Godwin also showed a couple of nice steps, including one for a runaway second-half try.
While Brumbies coach Dan McKellar wasn’t happy with the ‘‘rusty’’ first half, he was pleased with the fight in the second and felt that gave them hope ahead of their round-one clash against the Sunwolves in Tokyo on February 24.
‘‘Really pleased with the last 40 minutes, we were just slow out of the blocks for the first 40 minutes, a little bit of rust there,’’ he said.
‘‘First game for a number of guys, so we’ll be better for the run, but I thought the fight we showed in the second half - we just managed to play how we wanted to play.
‘‘We had some passages where we maintained possession and put the defence under pressure.’’
The Brumbies scored first when No 9 Joe Powell scored a sneaky try from a Chiefs scrum near their own line.
But then it became the Weber
show in an ominous 20 minutes.
The Chiefs were able to take advantage of Brumbies turnovers, responding with waves of runners down their left wing to overwhelm their opponents.
And it always seemed to be Weber on the end of the final pass as he showed three sets of clean heels.
The Chiefs’ only real concern was an injury to winger Tim NanaiWilliams (shoulder) that forced him off in the first half. Chiefs coach Colin Cooper said they would evaluate him during the week.
Fullback Shaun Stevenson also came off after appearing to injure his leg in the lead-up to one of Weber’s tries, but it was only cramp.
‘‘It’s all about getting ready for [the Canterbury] Crusaders [on February 24] and we showed some good signs,’’ Cooper said.
‘‘We showed some good signs with effort tonight, but we let in a few tries in the second half.
‘‘We’ve lost Tawera Kerr-Barlow so it’s a challenge for those two nines to secure the nine berth, so Brad’s really put his hand up, which is great.’’
Brad Weber has staked his claim for the Chiefs No 9 jersey in 2018 with a first-half hat-trick against the Brumbies.