Kuridrani hat-trick powers Brumbies past Bulls as Chiefs tame Reds

Canberra (AFP) –


Tevita Kuridrani bagged a hat-trick as the ACT Brumbies tamed the Bulls to surge clear at the top of the Australian conference Friday, while the Waikato Chiefs kept their slim finals hopes alive by beating the Reds.

The Wallabies centre ran in three tries for the first time in his Super Rugby career for a bonus point 22-10 victory, leaving the Northern Bulls still searching for a first win in Canberra since 2007.

In Hamilton, New Zealand's Chiefs came away 19-13 winners against the Queensland Reds despite being outplayed for most of the match.

It took them above Auckland Blues in the New Zealand conference and makes a spot in the finals a mathematical possibility -- although results need to go their way.

The defeat severely dented the Reds' finals prospects as they languish fourth, with the Brumbies now six points clear of the Rebels in second place, although the Melbourne team have a game in hand.

"We had limited prep with the Wallabies away (in camp) and we just tweaked where we needed to," said Brumbies captain Christian Lealiifano of their game plan, with his team now five wins from six.

"I thought the boys adapted really well and trusted our game and our plan. We need to continue the work and it will pay off."

The Pretoria-based Bulls remain top of the South African ladder, although that could change on Saturday with the Jaguares, Sharks and Lions in action.

The Bulls beat the Rebels last weekend for their first win outside South Africa in three years, but they were crucially missing injured captain and key goalkicker Handre Pollard in Canberra.

They got the first points from a Manie Libbok penalty, but the Brumbies hit back as Kuridrani touched down in the corner after Tom Banks held off two defenders before offloading.

The Bulls bounced back when Brumbies flanker Tom Cusask was sent to the sin bin for collapsing a rolling maul, with Hanro Liebenberg crossing for a converted try after a powerful scrum drive.

But it was the home team who went to the break 12-10 in front, with Kuridrani charging over after the ball was fed from a maul, with Lealiifano kicking the conversion.

They stretched the advantage in a deft move involving Lealiifano and Henry Speight which saw Irae Simone dot down for his maiden Super Rugby try.

Kuridrani, hitting form in the lead up to the World Cup this year, crossed for his third after a floating pass to put the game beyond reach.

-- Own worst enemy -

In Hamilton, the Chiefs made 242 tackles to 85 as the Reds dominated possession but failed to find a way through.

"Man, that was an immense effort to hold the Reds out, they were outstanding in the second half," captain Brad Weber said.

"We were probably our own worst enemy, giving away a ton of penalties and couldn't get out of our own half."

The Reds almost scored in the opening minutes, working the ball through 19 phases, only for Angus Scott Young's lunge at the line to be ruled a double movement.

Etene Nanai-Seturo then had a try disallowed at the other end when replays showed the Chiefs winger knocked on before grounding the ball.

Chiefs loose forward Pita Sowakula made no mistake in the ninth minute, beating three defenders to cross for a converted try.

Prop Atu Moli extended their lead after a patient build-up, then Nanai-Seturo scored their third try just before the break to make it 19-6.

Adding to the Reds' woes, the Queenslanders had another try disallowed, again for a double movement.

A Taniela Tupou try after the restart reduced the Chiefs' buffer to six points and they laid siege to the tryline but could not find a way through.