Rugby

Brumbies throttle struggling Sunwolves

Kyodo

The Sunwolves remained rooted to the bottom of the Australian Conference in Super Rugby on Friday, falling 47-14 to the Brumbies in Wollongong, Australia.

The game was originally slated to be played at Osaka’s Hanazono Rugby Stadium but was moved as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, and it ultimately proved to be another disappointing day for the Sunwolves’ loyal fans.

“We continue to have lapses in concentration and that hurts us in the long run,” said Sunwolves captain Jake Schatz. “You can’t afford to have those mistakes at this level.”

Having started their season with a win over the Rebels, the Sunwolves came into the game on the back of three big losses in a row, and head coach Naoya Okubo had made a number of changes in hope of righting the ship.

But aside from a good 15-minute spell in the first half and 10 minutes in the second, they struggled against a side that played some sparkling rugby.

Brumbies scrumhalf Ryan Lonergan crossed in the 10th minute after his side had dominated the opening exchanges. They increased the lead nine minutes later after quick ball from the forwards saw Will Miller dot down at WIN Stadium.

The Sunwolves slowly played themselves into the game, however, and with scrumhalf Rudy Paige directing operations, they were rewarded when Efitusi Ma’afu was pushed over by his pack in the 36th minute.

Okubo would have been happy trailing by just seven at the break given the poor start. But a handling error from Ben Te’o and some poor defense saw Rob Valetini cross the chalk to ensure the teams turned around with the Brumbies leading 21-7.

Any chance of a comeback for the Sunwolves was dashed in the first 16 minutes of the second stanza with Toni Pulu, Tevita Kuridrani and Solomone Kata all crossing as the Brumbies’ 15-man approach proved too much for the Sunwolves.

Michael Stolberg scored his second try in as many weeks for the Sunwolves as they showed they were not going down without a fight. But it was the Brumbies who finished the scoring off through Joe Powell as Dan McKellar’s side made sure it remained atop the Australian standings with four wins and one loss.

The Sunwolves, whose most recent game in Japan was on Feb. 15, will remain on the road for at least the next three weeks.

Next week’s home game against the Christchurch, New Zealand-based Crusaders — originally scheduled to be played at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground — will now take place in Brisbane.

The Sunwolves are still waiting to hear the fate of their other four home games, three of which are set for Tokyo and one for Singapore.

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