The Brumbies have opened their 2016 Super Rugby campaign with a 52-10 bonus-point demolition of last year’s finalists the Hurricanes in Canberra.
The ACT outfit’s big names stepped up on Friday night at GIO Stadium, with Wallabies superstars Stephen Moore, David Pocock, Scott Fardy, Tevita Kuridrani, Sam Carter and Argentina half Tomas Cubelli all scoring in the seven-try rout.
It was a mighty effort from departing co-captain Moore – named man of the match – in his 150th Super Rugby game, equalled in influence by fellow international Cubelli on debut.
Coach Stephen Larkham had been working on a more open attacking game for the new season, and it was on show for all to see in the nation’s capital.
The Brumbies, looking fit as ever, blew the `Canes away with their pace and choked them with a rock-solid defence that not even world-class halves pairing TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett could break.
It was a very different game to last year’s semi-final, which went the Wellington side’s way.
The Brumbies scored seven tries for the first time in a round one clash and, under the new system, were rewarded with a bonus point.
The game started at lightning speed and a flurry of big hits that’ll no doubt have bodies sore on Saturday.
The Hurricanes opened the scoring via the boot of Barrett, but it was Kuridrani who burrowed over from close range for the game’s first try.
Darting scrumhalf Cubelli added a second in the 28th minute for a 17-3 lead.
But it was a flashy line-out move just minutes before half-time that left the crowd both stunned and stoked.
An unselfish pass from Moore to Pocock sent the recently-crowned Australian sports personality of 2015 over for his first try of the year – and, unusually, it came from a running play not a rolling maul.
A Christian Lealiifano conversion sent the hosts into half-time up 24-3.
Fardy laid on another five-pointer soon after the break, taking their lead to 28 points.
The `Canes clawed it back with former NRL player Ngani Laumape scoring on debut after the ever-dangerous Nehe Milner-Skudder found some space on the left edge.
But it quickly went back to being all about the Brumbies, with Moore, Josh Mann-Rea and Carter crossing over in the final half-hour.
Lealiifano, co-captain for the first time, was superb off the tee – missing just one kick from long range.
An apparent leg injury to lock Rory Arnold appeared the only sour note for the Brumbies.
They host fierce rivals NSW Waratahs next week, while the Hurricanes play the Highlanders in a rematch of the 2015 final.