Dempsey finding light after a dark start to 2017

Waratahs flanker Jack Dempsey is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after an injury that has handed him one of his greatest challenges

Dempsey broke his foot against the Brumbies in round four, a blow that threw his Wallabies hopes out the window, and was initially slated to end his Super Rugby season.

The 23-year-old missed a chunk of 2016 with a shoulder injury before finishing the year with form good enough to be taken on the Wallabies Spring Tour as a development player.

It was that context that meant this injury felt like Dempsey’s biggest blow, with the backrower’s sights set on taking the next Test step in 2017.

While his season is far from over, Dempsey said there were plenty of difficulties along the way, but on the verge of a club comeback this weekend, he is finding the bright side.

“It’s probably been the toughest couple of months not only in my career, but in life in general,” he said.

“So, we had a couple of setbacks there – it looked at first like it was six-to-eight week but it kept getting delayed.

“It was just a bit frustrating at times, but we’re looking quite good now.”

Dempsey’s playing return will come for NSW club side Gordon, against Randwick and many of his NSW teammates, including back Andrew Kellaway, who can’t wait to go toe-to-toe with his good mate.

Hopefully I’m still on when he comes on in the back end of the game but it’ll be nice to get one on his chin or something like that,” he joked.

“You never want to see someone out for a lengthy process with injury so it’s good to see him back and it’s great for him to be returning at Coogee Oval.”

Saturday is the beginning of what Dempsey hopes is another late-season surge.

“I think after the way I ended the year last year, going on the Spring Tour and that sort of thing, (I was) feeling quite confident leading into this year as to how I was going to approach the year and what my goals were and obviously playing for the Wallabies was one that was up there,” he said.

“It’s not the end of the world, it’s just the timing put a whole lot of things out of whack.

“My only focus at the moment is getting back on the field and seeing where I‘m at.

“Once I’m there I’ll try to get back to form as quick as I can, and there’s still a lot of rugby left in the back end of the year I can look forward to.”

His goals of a Wallabies gig may not have been far off had it not been for this setback, with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika lamenting the turn of events on Thursday, when discussing his June squad.

“We’ve been a little bit disappointed Dempsey hasn’t had more game time, taking him on the tour we had high hopes that he would’ve come in and play a Test this year at some stage,” he said.

The irony is that his Waratahs replacement Ned Hanigan might just be in that mix come next week.

Dempsey and Kellaway will link up with the Waratahs in Queenstown this weekend ahead of their rd 15 match against the Chiefs in Waikato.

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Savea sent to bench as Lions stay stable for semi

The Hurricanes have dropped Julian Savea as they prepare for a blockbuster semi final clash with the Lions in Johannesburg.

The man they call “The Bus” is the victim of a backline reshuffle triggered by Vince Aso’s return to the centres.

Aso will start at outside centre, pushing Jordie Barrett back to fullback and Nehe Milner-Skudder to the right wing.Wes Goosen has been in fantastic form of late and he has been preferred to Savea on the left wing, meaning he will have to come from the bench.

As forecast, Dane Coles will start at hooker.

His first start in more than four months means Ricky Riccitelli shifts to the bench.They are two big changes for the Hurricanes but the Lions have no moves to speak of.

Content with a thrilling win against the Sharks, coach Johan Ackermann has named the same 23 to face the Canes.

The Hurricanes take on the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday night, kicking off at 10:30pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.


Lions team to face the Hurricanes

1. Jacques Van Rooyen

2. Malcolm Marx

3. Ruan Dreyer

4. Andries Ferreira

5. Franco Mostert

6. Jaco Kriel (C)

7. Kwagga Smith

8. Ruan Ackermann

9. Ross Cronje

10. Elton Jantjies

11. Courtnall Skosan

12. Harold Vorster

13. Lionel Mapoe

14. Ruan Combrinck

15. Andries Coetzee


16. Armand van der Merwe

17. Corne Fourie

18. Johannes Jonker

19. Lorens Erasmus

20. Cyle Brink

21. Francois de Klerk

22. Rohan Janse van Rensburg

23. Sylvian Mahuza

Hurricanes team to face the Lions

1. Ben May

2. Dane Coles (C)

3. Jeff Toomaga-Allen

4. Mark Abbott

5. Sam Lousi

6. Vaea Fifita

7. Ardie Savea

8. Brad Shields

9. TJ Perenara

10. Beauden Barrett

11. Wes Goosen

12. Ngani Laumape

13. Vince Aso

14. Nehe Milner-Skudder

15. Jordie Barrett


16. Ricky Riccitelli

17. Chris Eves

18. Loni Uhila

19. Reed Prinsep

20. Callum Gibbins

21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi

22. Otere Black

23. Julian Savea

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Waratahs need pressure to become points

The Waratahs have to figure out a way to turn pressure into points, coach Daryl Gibson says, and they’ll have to do it quickly.

A 24-21 loss to the Blues betrayed the statistics that the Waratahs dominated, with NSW having 72 per cent of the territory and most of the possession, but not being able to clinch a win.

They’ll have little margin for error when they head to Christchurch next weekend to take on the Crusaders and Gibson lamented their lack of conversion post-match.

“It’s disappointing to come away with no points off that pressure,” he said.

“I felt we controlled large parts of that game and missed a lot of opportunities there.”

The Waratahs had a chance to snatch it in the final minutes, but a Kurtley Beale cross-field kick went over the fingertips of Israel Folau, ending the game.

Though the decision bemused some spectators, Gibson said there were some mixed messages on-field, questioning a lack of reward from referee Jaco Peyper, with no penalties from the Blues in a long Waratahs’ attacking period. 

“Definitely near the end there, I felt we just lacked a little bit of composure there just to hold the ball for a little bit longer,” he said.

“Maybe the boys got confused that they maybe thought they were on a penalty advantage as opposed to an advantage, but I’m very proud of the team.

“That’s what we coach our boys to do on a penalty advantage, (and if that) kick’s two metres shorter, Israel gets that.

“And of course, near the end, not being able to pick up a penalty, we felt there were a few times there we probably deserved something a little bit more than what we got. 

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Waratahs, who have little time to dwell on Australia’s 38th-straight loss to New Zealand Super Rugby teams, with Gibson praising the effort of the side.

Moments like Cam Clark’s try-saving tackle on Rieko Ioane showed glimpses of fight the Waratahs have not often had in recent years.

“I thought they showed some really fighting qualities,” he said.

“That effort wasn’t rewarded with our technical execution.

“There’s some really good fighting qualities there that I like.”

Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper said the defeat hurt, but they had to ignore the wider Super Rugby tale, as they prepare for another three Kiwi foes.

“It’s a big narrative,” he said.

“We can only control what we’re doing, and the other teams are probably going to say the same thing, but we’ve got another three games against these guys, three good cracks and we’re going to focus week to week and this one hurts.

“It is disappointing, but we’ve got to go again. Every game’s tough. We’re fully aware of that.”

The Waratahs take on the Crusaders next Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO.

Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round 16

It was a winning weekend for three of Australia’s Super Rugby teams.

Who stood out in round 16?

1. Scott Sio 

Scott Sio is shaping up as one of the Wallabies’ most important players come June, coming into some strong form. Sio was integral for the Brumbies against the Sunwolves, and is back to some of his best rugby.

2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa

Paenga-Amosa is doing everything possible to get himself a spot in the Wallabies’ matchday 23, and another star turn in Super Rugby would only have helped. He’s hard around the ground and has also proven dangerous in attack.

3. Taniela Tupou

Tupou had another sensational match for the Reds on the weekend, showing his X factor and 2018 development in equal measure. Notched a super try and was dominant in the scrum as well.

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4. Matt Philip

Philip has had a patchy season but found some of his 2017 form against the Blues. Combined well with skipper Coleman in the second row and his physicality helped the Rebels set the tone early.

5. Adam Coleman

Coleman is finding his mojo again, one of the standouts for the Rebels in Auckland. The Rebels captain led the way for his team against the Blues, and that’s exactly what they need.

6. Lachie McCaffrey

McCaffrey has barely put a foot wrong for the Brumbies since returning to Australia. Scored a try and forced a turnover as well. He is as tough as they come and becoming more valuable than ever for the Canberra side.

7. David Pocock

Pocock only played 60 minutes against the Sunwolves, but that’s all he needed to make an impact. Had the first try of the match and caused headaches in the breakdown all afternoon.

8. Caleb Timu 

Timu changed the game when he was injected against the Waratahs, scoring a barnstorming try, running over Nick Phipps along the way.

9. Joe Powell

Powell had his best game of the season against the Sunwolves, delivering speedy service for his teammates and being a general threat in attack as well.

10. Bernard Foley

Foley has been one of the most consistent Australian players this season and was again among the best in Brisbane.

11. Jack Maddocks

Maddocks is going from strength to strength this season and was again a standout for the Rebels on Saturday. The 21-year-old is super dangerous in attack.

12. Billy Meakes

He’s not in Wallabies contention this time around, but Billy Meakes showed glimpses of his best form in round 16. A scintillating double coupled with some gritty defensive work from him put him among the best on ground.

13. Curtis Rona

Rona started the season slowly, but has warmed into a starting spot and was a standout against the Reds. Scored a slick try for the Waratahs in Brisbane and was effective in defence, with seven tackles.

14. Henry Speight

Speight lit up GIO Stadium with an electric double against the Sunwolves. It’s been an inconsistent year for the winger but he was at his best in round 16.

15. Israel Folau

Folau seems to get better each and every week, a prospect that will terrify opponents. Had a double against the Reds, including collecting a super cross-field kick to score in the corner. Look out, Ireland.

Kaino to set sail for France

All Black flanker Jerome Kaino announced his international retirement Wednesday, saying he will leave New Zealand to play in France at the end of the Super Rugby season.

The two-time World Cup winner has 81 Test caps and played a huge role in New Zealand’s successful 2011 and 2015 campaigns.

“He helped set the benchmark for modern loose forward play with his dominant performances over the years,” New Zealand Rugby (NZR) chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement.

NZR did not say which French club the 34-year-old will join but he has been linked with Toulon, who last month announced the departure of loose forward Duane Vermeulen.The All Blacks have a policy of not selecting overseas-based players and have able replacements at blindside flanker in Liam Squire and Vaea Fifita.

Auckland Blues coach Tana Umaga said the American Samoa-born Kaino remained an integral part of his plans for the 2018 Super Rugby season.

“We are just at the start of a very important Super Rugby campaign and Jerome has a big part to play in that,” he said.

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Lucas, Mafi to make first starts of season for Reds

Reds coach Brad Thorn has handed surprise starts to Alex Mafi and Ben Lucas, as Queensland seek their fourth straight win against the Stormers.

Mafi has been rewarded for some impactful spurts off the bench in starting ahead of the impressive Brandon Paenga-Amosa, with Lucas earning the start ahead of both James Tuttle and Tate McDermott.

Tuttle, peculiarly, has been left out of the 23 altogether, with McDermott to support Lucas from the bench.

There is another change in the backs, with Eto Nabuli dropped to the bench, Samu Kerevi sliding across to outside centre and Chris Feauai-Sautia pushed back to the wing to accommodate the return of Duncan Paia’aua at inside centre.Scott Higginbotham hasn’t walked straight back into the starting XV, either, set to make his return from a three week suspension off the bench.

That leaves James Slipper with the captain’s armband in his 100th cap for Queensland – a milestone Thorn encouraged his side to rise for.

“This is a really special match for James Slipper,” Thorn said.

“He has been at Ballymore for more than a decade and the opportunity to play 100 games for your home state is significant.

“The occasion isn’t lost on anyone.“We want to put in a performance we can all be proud of.”

On the bench, Higginbotham’s inclusion means there is no place for Liam Wright, with Sef Faagase also named in place of Ruan Smith.

“We’ve made some changes to the side again. I’ve said a number of times we’re a work in progress and the benefit of this squad is there’s genuine depth and competition for spots,” Thorn said.

“Alex (Mafi) has been doing a good job off the bench and we wanted to give him the chance to start. It’s a similar situation with Ben (Lucas).

“He brought good energy and experience to the field when he came on last week and that will be important this weekend.

“Chris (Feauai-Sautia) and Samu (Kerevi) have been doing a really good job in the centres but this is an opportunity for Duncan (Paia’aua) and a chance to get all three in the backline together.

“The Stormers are a tough team and we’ve had a difficult week with the travel from Argentina, but the guys are clear what their job is this weekend.”


Reds team to face the Stormers

1. James Slipper (C) – Bond University (100th Queensland/SR cap)

2. Alex Mafi – Bond University

3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers

4. Izack Rodda – Easts

5. Kane Douglas – Norths

6. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland

7. Adam Korczyk – University of Queensland

8. Caleb Timu – Souths

9. Ben Lucas – Sunnybank

10. Jono Lance – University of Queensland

11. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths

12. Duncan Paia’aua – Norths

13. Samu Kerevi – Souths

14. Filipo Daugunu – Wests

15. Aidan Toua – Easts


16. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank

17. JP Smith – GPS

18. Sef Fa’agase – University of Queensland

19. Harry Hockings – University of Queensland

20. Scott Higginbotham – Wests

21. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland

22. Hamish Stewart – Bond University

23. Eto Nabuli – GPS

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The Reds face the Stormers in Cape Town on Sunday morning, kicking off at 2:15am AEDT, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.

Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US

Happy Tuesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Ellen Mitchell, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.


THE TOPLINE: Washington on Tuesday was left guessing whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE would strike Iran, with Trump himself and top White House officials continuing to up the rhetoric against Tehran.

Vice President Pence said that the United States is “locked and loaded” to defend America’s allies in response to an attack on oil sites in Saudi Arabia.  

Pence, echoing remarks made by Trump the day prior, said the administration doesn’t want to go to war with anyone but remains prepared to defend its allies.

“In the wake of this unprovoked attack, I promise you, we’re ready,” Pence said at the Heritage Foundation at the outset of an address focused on trade. “We’re locked and loaded and we’re ready to defend the interests of our allies. Make no mistake about it.”

He added that the United States “will take whatever action is necessary” to defend U.S. allies.

Confirming details: Pence said that it “looks like” Iran was responsible for the attack on the Saudi oil facilities, but said the U.S. intelligence community was working to confirm the details.

He added that Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump heads to California Pence says US is ‘locked and loaded’ to defend allies US-Iran next moves — Déjà vu of Obama administration mistakes? MORE would travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to meet with U.S. counterparts there about the attack. 

“We’re evaluating all of the evidence, we’re consulting with our allies,” Pence said, adding that Trump, who is on a campaign swing on the West Coast, would determine the best course of action.

The background: On Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s Khurais oil field and Abqaiq oil processing plant were set ablaze in attacks that shut off half of the kingdom’s oil exports, equal to approximately 5 percent of the world’s supply.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are supported by Iran, took credit for the attack.

But Trump administration officials, including Pompeo, have instead blamed Iran directly. Trump himself, however, stopped short of directly attributing the attack to Iran on Monday, saying only that it’s “certainly looking” like Iran is responsible.

Trump has also said the United States would wait for Saudi Arabia to determine who was responsible.

What Saudi Arabia is saying: On Monday, Saudi officials said initial evidence shows the weapons used were Iranian and that the attack was not launched from Yemen, but that its origin is still unknown. The Saudis added that they would invite U.N. experts to investigate and decide how to act based on those findings.

Meeting a no go: Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday reportedly ruled out any talks with the U.S. amid increased tensions between the two nations in the wake of crippling attacks at oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

“There will be no talks with the U.S. at any level … all officials in the Islamic Republic unanimously believe this,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, according to The Associated Press.

He added that Iran must prove that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure policy” is not “worth a penny for the Iranian nation.”

“That’s why all Iranian officials, from the president and the foreign minister to all others have announced that we do not negotiate [with the U.S.] either bilaterally or multilaterally.”

The leader’s comments come after speculation that President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani would meet in New York later this month at the United Nations General Assembly.

Mounting tensions: If Iran were responsible for the attack, Pence said, it would “just be the latest in a series of escalations instigated by the Islamic Republic.”

Pence rattled off examples of Iran’s destabilizing behavior, citing Iran’s support for Houthi rebels in Yemen and its breach of low-enriched uranium caps put in place by the 2015 nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew from last year despite objections from U.S. allies.

U.S.-Iran tensions skyrocketed this summer as Trump tightened sanctions and Iran breached key limits of the nuclear deal for the first time. In June, Trump said he came within minutes of launching a military strike on Iran in response to Iran shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone.

In the days before the attack on Saudi oil facilities, however, tensions appeared to be trending down. Administration officials had said Trump was open to a meeting with the Iranians with no preconditions, and anticipation was building for a meeting at next week’s United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.


REPUBLICANS WARY OF ACTION ON IRAN: Senate Republicans are counseling President Trump to further analyze the attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities before responding, suggesting a wariness for U.S. military action against Iran.

“We’re not anywhere near that point,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischTrump at a pivotal crossroads on Iran Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn’t want war with Iran | Pentagon chief calls attack on Saudi oil facilities ‘unprecedented’ | Administration weighs response | 17th US service member killed in Afghanistan this year Bolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran MORE (R-Idaho) said Tuesday when asked if he’d support a military strike. “We’re still in the analysis situation. The briefing book that’s been put together lays out the facts, and it’s only after the facts are looked at, analyzed, conclusions reached that decisions will be made.”

Senators get briefing: The comments Tuesday came as the Trump administration provided senators a briefing book on the attacks to review inside a secure room in the Senate basement and as Vice President Pence briefed Republicans on the situation at their weekly caucus lunch.

Senators also expect a closed-door briefing as soon as Wednesday, though it has not been officially announced.

More lawmaker reaction: Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWe’ve lost sight of the real scandal The Hill’s Morning Report – What is Trump’s next move on Iran? The Memo: Times correction gives GOP lifeline in latest Kavanaugh controversy MORE (R-S.C.) on Tuesday urged Trump to take “decisive action” against Iran.

“The problems with Iran only get worse over time so it is imperative we take decisive action to deter further aggression by the Ayatollah and his henchman,” Graham tweeted.

The South Carolina lawmaker pointed to Trump’s response when Iran shot down a U.S. military drone in June as a case of not acting decisively enough.

“The measured response by President @realDonaldTrump regarding the shooting down of an American drone was clearly seen by the Iranian regime as a sign of weakness,” he said.

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoGOP senator: Iran is behind attack on Saudi Arabia House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge Lobbying World MORE (R-Wyo.), meanwhile, said he thinks Iran was behind the attacks but believes sanctions are a more appropriate response than military action.

Barrasso, who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN that he reviewed the classified briefing on the incident Tuesday morning and came to the conclusion that Iran was behind the attack. 

When asked if confirmation of Iranian involvement would warrant U.S. military retaliation, the Republican senator said the country should instead focus on the sanctions.

“As of this point, no. I think we need to continue with the sanctions,” he said. “They are biting. They are punishing. They’re making a difference.”

Other opinions: Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenator Josh Hawley reacts to Saudi oil attacks Senator Josh Hawley talks push to regulate big tech The Hill’s Morning Report – What is Trump’s next move on Iran? MORE (R-Mo.) urged the administration to exercise restraint regarding Iran, saying the U.S. should be mindful of protecting its own interests.

“We shouldn’t attack anybody on behalf of Saudi Arabia for Saudi Arabia’s national interests,” Hawley said during an appearance on Hill.TV.

Hawley argued that the U.S. should instead look to “preserve the security of the American people and the prosperity of our middle class.”


PENTAGON IDENTIFIES 17TH US COMBAT DEATH IN AFGHANISTAN: The Pentagon on Tuesday identified the U.S. service member that was killed in action a day prior in Afghanistan.

Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, 40, of Greenbrier, Tenn., was killed on Monday by small arms fire when his unit was engaged in combat operations in Wardak Province, according to a Defense Department statement.

Griffin was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., which had been supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. That operation is part of the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support.

Griffin’s death, which is under investigation, is the 17th American combat death in Afghanistan this year. 

The death rate for U.S. troops in the country is at a five-year high, a figure reached earlier this month after two service members were killed by small-arms fire.

The death rate has been far higher for Afghan forces and civilians in 2019, numbering in the hundreds.



Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperTrump at a pivotal crossroads on Iran Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn’t want war with Iran | Pentagon chief calls attack on Saudi oil facilities ‘unprecedented’ | Administration weighs response | 17th US service member killed in Afghanistan this year Overnight Energy: Top presidential candidates to skip second climate forum | Group sues for info on ‘attempts to politicize’ NOAA | Trump allows use of oil reserve after Saudi attacks MORE and Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright are among the speakers for Day 3 of the Air Force Association’s 2019 Air, Space and Cyber Conference. Livestream beginning at 8:30 a.m. at

Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations Denise Natali will speak at the United States Institute of Peace forum on “Resetting Priorities to Address Violent Extremist Threats,” at 9 a.m. in Washington, D.C. 

Vice Commander of Air Force Space Command Lt. Gen. David Thompson will join a Washington Space Business Roundtable discussion on “SATCOM DoD Requirements, Capabilities, and Acquisition,” at 11:30 a.m. in Washington, D.C. 



— The Hill: Trump at a pivotal crossroads on Iran

— The Hill: Senate set for floor showdown over Trump border wall

— The Hill: Trump names finalists for national security adviser

— The Hill: Trump envoy presses Saudi Arabia to allow nuclear inspections

— The Hill: 26 killed in bombing at rally for Afghan president

— The Hill: Two insurgents killed in US strike on al-Shabaab in Somalia

— The Hill: Opinion: Iran’s drone attacks are a threat to Trump, militarily and politically

— The Hill: Opinion: US-Iran next moves — Déjà vu of Obama administration mistakes?

Brumbies defeat adds to dismal Aussie weekend

A dismal 25-20 Brumbies loss to the Jaguares has completed a winless weekend for Australia’s Super Rugby sides.

Sunday’s defeat completed a quartet of losses to foreign teams through the weekend, with the Waratahs, Reds and Rebels all conceding their fixtures before the Brumbies this weekend.

The Brumbies were on the back foot from the start of the match, never finding the lead against the Argentinians, who have now won three of their four encounters against Australian teams this season, and their last four on Australian soil. 

An 18-phase attack from the Jaguares gave them reward for patience in just the fifth minute, with Matias Orlando finally crashing over for the Argentinians.

Only a desperate tackle from Tom Banks prevented the Jaguares from going over for their second in 10 minutes as the Brumbies looked to try and build their way back into the contest.

The Argentines managed to add more points with two penalties within three minutes, to stretch their lead to 13 minutes in just 16 minutes, and it could have been extended again, if not for Sanchez missing his third penalty attempt.

By the 20-minute mark, the Brumbies had held just 25 per cent of possession and were forced to make 58 tackles along the way, and showed few signs of changing that trend.

Brumbies hooker Folau Faingaa went centimetres short of a maul try, and then though they won a penalty off that play, lost the ensuing lineout, before their third lineout gave them a reward, fullback Tom Banks making the most of an overlap to score.

Banks had an unlikely double just shy of half-time, with a Wharenui Hawera kick sitting up perfectly for the fullback, who pounced and narrowed the gap to just three points.

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Jaguares winger Emiliano Boffelli was sent straight to the sin bin after a blatant illegal aerial challenge on Henry Speight, opening up the chance for the Brumbies to take the lead.

In that 10 minutes, though, they couldn’t manage to change scores, with Scott Sio losing the ball just short of their attacking line.

When Banks made an elementary kicking error, booting the ball out on the full outside of the Brumbies’ 22, the hosts’ time with an extra man had all but run out.

In fact it was the Jaguares who scored with a man down, Jeronimo de la Fuente finishing off a strong play, ironically on the left edge from which they had lost a player.

The Brumbies hit back in the 66th minute, with an attacking chain generated from a driving maul, and Chance Peni taking the ball over the line, eschewing an outside option to score.

A missed Sanchez penalty kept the Brumbies in touch, but Boffelli found the line, outsmarting the Brumbies defence to score.

Opprtunities came for the Brumbies late, but the Jaguares were impressive in the breakdown, nabbing two vital turnovers.

The Brumbies escaped with a bonus point, with an 83rd-minute penalty, but that was little consolation for the Canberrans.

David Pocock limped off the ground in the 73rd minute, after reports of a calf concern in the lead-up to the match, an issue the Brumbies will be hoping is not serious. 

The Brumbies host the Crusaders next week, while the Jaguares head to New Zealand to take on the Blues.

Brumbies 20

Tries: Banks 2, Peni

Cons: Hawera 

Pens: Hawera

Jaguares 25

Tries: Orlando, De la Fuente, Boffelli

Cons: Sanchez 2

Pens: Sanchez 2

Yellow Card: Emiliano Boffelli (48’)

Reds vs Bulls: Five things we learned

The Reds scraped home against the Bulls in an enthralling encounter at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Here’s what we learned from the 20-14 win.

1. Tremendous Timu

The Reds have big wraps on Caleb Timu and having spent a season learning his craft at Souths, he was unleashed against the Bulls.It was his best game in a Reds jersey through five caps, racking up 13 carries for 30 tough metres, two clean breaks, three tackle busts and five tackles on the other side of the ball.

With Scott Higginbotham and Lukhan Tui sidelined for one more week, the No. 8 will have another chance to shine against the Jaguares next Sunday (AEDT).

2. Bulls go loco with away kit

If you thought the Bulls looked like the Brazilian soccer team on Saturday night, you weren’t crazy.

The Mamelodi Sundowns inspired kit is an attempt to draft new fans, such is the success of the Pretorian based soccer team.

The Sundowns are known as the Brazilians, such is the similarity in the yellow, green and blue kit.

3. Lance looking super at 10

The preseason battle between Hamish Stewart and Jono Lance for the starting flyhalf gig was enthralling but Brad Thorn looks to have found his man.

As promising a prospect as Stewart is, Lance is at the peak of his powers and the Reds coach declared his flyhalf as the man of the match after the game.

Lance’s kicking in general play was sublime, he attacked the line with ball in hand and rarely, if ever, misses a tackle.

Add that package to a clutch penalty goal with four to play and you have a playmaker that outpointed his international opposite in Handre Pollard.

4. Kerevi keeps queries alive

There has long been a school of thought that Samu Kerevi’s best position is inside centre but the jury is still out.

While Kerevi was one of Queensland’s best with 22 carries which produced seven tackle busts, two clean breaks and 61 metres, it wasn’t the archetypal inside centre performance.

He still looked like a 13 playing in jersey 12 and while Chris Feauai-Sautia also played very well, whether this is the right combination moving forward remains to be seen.

5. Set piece dreams

The Reds lineout was as crisp as one could hope on Saturday but the scrum has become a bonafide weapon.

James Slipper, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Taniela Tupou are doing a brilliant job up front and the finishers, in Sef Faagase, Alex Mafi and JP Smith, are also shredding opposition scrums.

It’s a dual pronged attack which will serve the Reds very well as they set off for Argentina and South Africa.

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Star trio lifting Rebels' attack: English

The form of Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Billy Meakes is making life that little bit better for the Rebels, according to centre Tom English.

Genia, Cooper and Meakes are playing together for the first time in 2019 and the trio have laid the foundations for one of the Rebels’ most potent attacking seasons to this point.

The Rebels’ finishing skills have been well and truly proven this season and the Melbourne side sits second overall in Super Rugby for tries scored.

After seven matches and still another nine to go, they have racked up 30 tries – second only to the Crusaders – after last year totalling 57 for the entire season.

The reunion of Quade Cooper and Will Genia, along with the career-best form of inside centre Billy Meakes, is laying the platform for the rest of the backline to fire, English said.

“They really understand each other’s game and it shows there out on the field,” he said.

“All we have to do is just really just show up and run our lines, do our job and the rest will take care of itself.”

While the trio set up the attacking side of the game, Meakes’ defensive talents have also been crucial for the Rebels this season.

“He’s probably one of our best tacklers in the team and he’s not one of the biggest guys but his technique’s quality, he’s got it down pat and I really enjoy defending inside of him because he makes a few tackles for me every now and then.

English’s view that the inside trio sets the foundations for the outside backs to finish echoes comments from winger Jack Maddocks about the side’s instinctive approach to 2019.

That approach is paying off for English, who is enjoying a career-best season so far, but he was quick to deflect the credit.

“I’ve matured more as a player,” he said.

It also helps when you are in a squad that’s doing well and with such quality players, it makes your job a hell of a lot easier.

“I find that playing outside Bill, Will and Quade, players who are at the top of their game at the moment, it really brings everyone else up around them.

“I have a lot to them to thank for my form at the moment and I think just for me it’s just taking it a week at a time, don’t get complacent and just working on little parts of my game just to make it better and well-rounded.”

Despite his form, English was frank when asked about the prospect of a Test call-up down the track.

“To be honest no, I haven’t had chats (with Wallabies staff) for a couple of years now,” he said.

“Like every player says when they get asked this question is I think the most important thing is focusing on your Super team.

“If your Super team’s going well and you’re going well, well then you may get the opportunity to represent your country at the end of the year.

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“For us it’s just all eyes ahead for the Rebels.”

This weekend, the Rebels have another chance to distance themselves from the chasing pack against a Stormers side hungry for a win in Australia.

The Stormers will be missing captain Siya Kolisi and star forwards Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit but they will still be a fearsome opponent, English said.

“It’s tough travelling and being on the road,” he said.

“We were on the receiving end of that when we were over in Africa but they’re a great team and they have some quality players like Damien de Allende, the springbok 12, he’s their go-to man.

“If he can be firing, I think they’ll look to play a lot of their attack around him.

“Then their forwards, I’m assuming some of them are going home to be rested but they always play a quality side and we can’t afford to take teams lightly.”

The Rebels take on the Stormers on Friday April 12 at AAMI Park, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Kayo and via RADIO.