The Sunwolves were beaten 41-31 by the Brumbies at Canberra’s GIO Stadium on Sunday as the Super Rugby competition heads into the June break.
With the majority of their national team members back in Japan preparing for the upcoming tests against Italy and Georgia, the Sunwolves did not help their own cause with a number of errors — many of which were unforced.
“The Brumbies outplayed us,” Sunwolves captain Willie Britz said. “We couldn’t keep our ball and couldn’t keep our width and they put a lot of pressure on us.”
(Sam Carter of the Brumbies wins the lineout ball)
David Pocock opened the scoring in the seventh minute after the platform created by the Brumbies forwards saw them dominate the early proceedings.
Lachlan McCaffrey followed him onto the scoresheet five minutes later thanks to a good break and offload by Joe Powell as the hosts made the most of every opportunity.
The Sunwolves had the edge in territory over the next 10 minutes or so and a penalty from Hayden Parker saw them get on the scoreboard in the 24th minute.
But a failure to get out of their 22 from the kickoff and some soft attempts at tackling cost the visitors as Tom Banks crossed almost immediately to make it 19-3.
The Sunwolves hit back though when a good charge down from Harumichi Tatekawa sat up nicely and allowed Jason Emery to gather the ball and cross the chalk, as the teams turned around with nine points separating them.
(Jason Emery, 2nd from right)
With just 29 percent of possession in the first half, the Sunwolves needed to hold onto the ball and create a number of phases if they were to have a chance of getting back into the game.
And they did just that from the restart with a good break from Parker eventually finished off by Hencus van Wyk.
But it was only a fleeting glimpse of the rugby the Sunwolves are capable of as tries from Andrew Muirhead, Henry Speight and Tom Cusack saw the Brumbies stretch their lead.
The Sunwolves closed to within 10 points when Ed Quirk rumbled over in the 70th minute to give the Japan fans in the crowd hope of another late win.
But a second try to Speight dashed any chances of that and ensured Kai Ishii’s try on debut was nothing more than consolation.
The Sunwolves next game is on June 30 in Singapore against the Pretoria-based Bulls, while the Brumbies travel to Japan without their Wallabies to take on Suntory Sungoliath on June 17, as part of a doubleheader that also includes the Waratahs and NEC Green Rockets.