We­ber hat-trick sets up Chiefs win

Taranaki Daily News - - Sport - DAVID POLKINGHORNE

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.’’

GETTY IM­AGES

Brad We­ber has staked his claim for the Chiefs No 9 jer­sey in 2018 with a first-half hat-trick against the Brumbies.

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