Connal McInerney scored a hat trick off the bench Saturday as the Brumbies overpowered Sunwolves 42-19 to boost their Super Rugby Finals chances.
The bonus-point victory, punctuated by a perfect 6-for-6 from the boot of captain Christian Lealiifano lifted the Canberra club above the Rebels at the top of Super Rugby’s Australian Conference with two games left in the regular season.
The Brumbies were jolted at the start when Hosea Saumaki burst clear to put the Sunwolves (2-12) ahead in the first minute of their final home game of the season.
But the visitors quickly hit back through Peter Samu and Irae Simone, before Thomas Banks ran in a highlight try after a deft kick from Lealiifano.
Semisi Masirewa ran in a superb solo try before the break to reduce the deficit to 21-12 for the home side.
But replacement McInerney made an instant impact for the Brumbies (8-6), twice crashing over after a pair of carbon-copy driving mauls at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in Tokyo.
McInerney completed his treble with eight minutes left.
“Once again it just wasn’t quite good enough,” said the Sunwolves’ Hayden Parker.