TOO GOOD: Liam Polwart gets a pass away during the Chiefs victory over the Brumbies at Bokarina last night.
TOO GOOD: Liam Polwart gets a pass away during the Chiefs victory over the Brumbies at Bokarina last night. Warren Lynam

Chiefs tame Brumbies with fast start to trial at Kawana

RUGBY UNION: The Brumbies will head towards the Super Rugby season with something to ponder after being toppled 38-26 by the Chiefs in their last trial at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Wednesday night.

Coach Dan McKellar named a strong side to take on the Waikato-based outfit, with Christian Lealiifano returning to the starting side for the first time since 2016, as captain.

But their opponents found plenty of space on a humid night, with Brad Weber bagging a first-half hat-trick and All Blacks representative Damian McKenzie steering them around with vigour.

With a 26-7 deficit at half-time, the damage was all but done.

"I think we were just a bit flat in the first 40," McKellar said.

"For some of the boys, it was their first game in a while so it was probably the speed of the game that caught us off guard a little bit which is how the Chiefs play, and that's how we want to play."

So the Brumbies will focus on starting with more venom in round one.

"It was a nice little wake-up call," he said.

"It's a trial game. We've got to tidy up a few areas, at the set piece, in the breakdown and in contact...that's what trial games are for."

The second stanza was tighter as the Brumbies worked their way into the game, in front of about 2600 fans.

"I thought we showed some real fight to come back and play some passages, the way we can play the game," he said.

It was the first time Lealiifano started a match for the Brumbies since the end of 2016, after being diagnosed with leukaemia 18 months ago.

He showed some promise at flyhalf in a mainly first half showing, including a buckling tackle on McKenzie on his own try-line which forced the ball loose.

"I thought he was good. It was his first game, in hot conditions for him," the coach said of the 30-year-old, who played in Ireland during their winter. "He showed some good signs. He'll be better for the run."

Lealiifano echoed the coach's comments about the team's opening to the contest.

"We got off to a slow start which we will go off and look at but there were some real positives. Our reserves came on and kept us in the game there."

"It was really special feeling to run out with my team-mates again."

And he relished the occasion.

"It was really special feeling to run out with my team-mates again."


Match break-down

The Brumbies actually scored first, when a Chiefs scrum feed went awry on their own line and half Joe Powell pounced on the loose ball to cross.

But the men in black largely dominated the rest of the first half, with a host of enterprising open field plays.

Brad Weber benefited from a quick line-out to level the ledger at 7-apiece before he scored again from an inside ball from Tim Nanai-Williams.

Flanker Mitch Brown then crossed as the lead ballooned to 19-7 and then Weber latched on to an offload from Taleni Seu to cross again for a 26-7 advantage at the break.

The Chiefs burrowed their way over with some hard-edged work among the forwards for a 26-point lead. Brumbies fullback Tom Banks struck out wide to bring the gap back to 33-14.

Brumbies flanker Rob Valetini scooped up a loose ball and ran 60m to capture the crowd's attention and when Kyle Godwin showed pace to cross, the match was in the balance at 33-26.

But Johnny Faauli put the result beyond doubt with a try out wide.