The Brumbies fell to Moana Pasifika 32-22 in round 15 of Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific, the home side putting in a spirited performance in their final game of 2022.
A home quarter final beckons for the Brumbies, who were left to rue missed chances and poor discipline as Christian Lealiifano and Moana charged home for a well-deserved victory.
It was the Brumbies who started the brighter of the two sides, Connal McInerney crossing off the back of a rolling drive.
Lolesio converted and the Brumbies began to turn the screw early. Then, Moana tighthead prop Sekope Kepu saw red for a high shot on Andy Muirhead, just 10 minutes into his 150th Super Rugby game.
That seemed to spark Moana, as the Brumbies struggled to contain wave after wave of big ball carriers, and in the 20th minute the contest would shift heavily in the home side’s favour.
Moana ran in their first try through William Havili in the 20th minute before backing that effort up just five minutes later, this time from replacement prop Joe Apikotoa.
The Brumbies had chances to gain territory but couldn’t get the ball to stick as repeated infringements at the ruck invited Moana deeper and deeper into their territory.
Those penalties eventually saw Connal McInerney go to the bin, and from the ensuing penalty, Moana got the driving maul going, and Jahrome Brown infringed which resulted in an automatic seven points, and another yellow card.
19-7 at the break, the Brumbies now down to 13 players, started the second half brightly, Noah Lolesio taking three points off the required total, and valuable seconds off the clock as the Brumbies got back to their full compliment.
The breakthrough the Brumbies needed would come in the 56th minute, Lachlan Lonergan on to convert off the back of the drive, but as the Brumbies went searching for a winner, the score just never came and in the 75th minute, Moana turned defence into attack, scoring through Fine Inisi, effectively ending the contest.
Pete Samu would have the last say, finishing brilliantly on the right wing off a cracking assist from Rodney Iona, but it was too much too late for the Brumbies, the final score 32-22.
Brumbies 22 (7) (T: McInerney, L.Lonergan, P.Samu ; C: Lolesio 2; DG: Lolesio) def bt Moana Pasifika 32 (19)