Seven-try Brumbies maul Sunwolves in virus-hit Super Rugby
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Wollongong (Australia) (AFP)
A rampaging ACT Brumbies stretched their lead at the top of Super Rugby's Australian conference Friday with a commanding 47-14 romp that piled more misery on the Sunwolves, whose final season has been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Last year's semi-finalists now have four wins from five, while the struggling Japanese side have failed to repeat the impressive form they showed in upsetting the Melbourne Rebels in round one.
But after a shaky start it was at least a marginally better performance from the Sunwolves who leaked seven tries, compared to the 10 conceded in each of their two previous games.
The game was moved to the neutral venue of Wollongong, south of Sydney, from Japan because of the deadly coronavirus, which has thrown the world's sporting calendar into turmoil.
"We started well in the first half then lost our way a bit, but happy with the way the boys started the second-half," skipper Alan Alaalatoa said after the bonus-point win.
"We enjoyed the early game and proud of the boys and how we adapted throughout the week."
The Brumbies showed intent right from the kickoff with an 18-phase attack. After sustained territory they got a deserved breakthrough when Ryan Lonergan found a gap in the defensive line.
He converted his own try for a dream starting debut and it was 14-0 inside 20 minutes with flanker Will Miller crossing after a clever offload from Murray Douglas.
The Sunwolves, who will be booted out this year as unwieldy Super Rugby slims down to 14 teams, finally woke up and their greater possession was rewarded when Efitusi Maafu dotting down after a well-worked driving maul.
But they went to sleep again as the siren sounded for half-time with Rob Valetini darting down the left wing to send the Brumbies into the break with a 21-7 lead.
The Canberra-based team, who had a bye last week, came into the game buoyed by beating the Waikato Chiefs a fortnight ago to snap a 13-match losing streak in New Zealand.
And they built on their lead in the second stanza with Toni Pulu bagging their fourth try and Tevita Kuridrani getting the fifth as the Sunwolves' suspect defence was again exposed.
Solomone Kata and Joe Powell scored two more with big lock Michael Stolberg grabbing a late consolation for the Sunwolves, whose next home game against New Zealand powerhouse Canterbury Crusaders has also been shifted from Japan to Australia.
"We continue to have lapses in concentration which continue to hurt us in the long," said Sunwolves co-captain Jake Schatz. "The boys put in the effort and energy, but at the end of the day we can't afford to have those mistakes at this level."
© 2020 AFP