Promising schoolboy inside centre Sheldon Nelson scored two brilliant breathtaking tries on feet that reminded the crowd of Springbok Sevens star Fabian Juries, as Brumbies 1st XV handed Surburban a rugby lesson at the Oval on Saturday afternoon. After taking a commanding 17-8 lead at the break, the Brumbies ended their EP Super League Grand Challenge match with a 34-8 and a much-needed bonus point.
It was a perfect festival atmosphere at the Oval, with a great game of running rugby, dominated by the Brumbies from the outset.
Man of the Match, Sheldon Nelson was again in sublime form, on both attack and defence.
On attack his dancing feet caught his opponents off guard, making them look like fools with ball in hand. The Mary Waters High School pupil kept the 1 500 spectators on their feet.
Nelson is one of the Brumbies' consistent performers this season and a promising prospect for the future.
His centre partner, Ivor Andrews, also scored a brilliant individual 60-metre try, showing sheer pace, skill and wonderful footwork on his way to the tryline.
This exciting young centre combination proved a real treat for the top teams in the Grand Challenge, against top-quality players.
Brumbies went into the match with only one thing on their minds: to win with a bonus point – and they did so with flying colours.
Brumbies forwards set the pace with their strong ball carriers – especially the big but mobile prop forward Antonio May. May had his best game of the season with his strong, dominant scrumming, his strong ball-carrying and solid defence. He was well supported by captain and 8th man Gareth Burger, the eldest in the team, who showed no signs of age. He looked like he did in the heydays of his games for the South African Academy team and for EP in the Craven Week. Brumbies opened the scoring in the 13th minute of the first half when scrumhalf Joseph Koeberg dived over after some brilliant work by Jaco Buys and Gareth Burger for a set scrum.
Flyhalf Vincent Mains converted to gave Brumbies a 7-0 lead.
Minutes later, Nelson scored his first try and one of the tries of the season, after receiving the ball from Jaco Buys in general play.
Nelson collected the ball from Buys and less than five metres from the touchline, sidestepped him with his magical, dancing feet. This caught his opponent off-guard and he was able to score in the right-hand corner.
Five minutes later, Gareth Burger scored from a line-out after lock Allan Loutz neatly and cleverly collected the ball from the line-out, breaking through. In support he found Burger, who dived over.
Brumbies led 17-0. Surburban replied with a penalty and a try. Brumbies went into halftime with a healthy 17-8 lead.
The second half was a one-way affair as the home side entertained the crowd. Nelson scored his second try in the fifth minute after a set piece: Mains executed a perfect skip pass for Andrews, who offloaded Nelson into the gap.
Nelson sprinted 50 metres to beat three defenders, stepping in and diving over for a brilliant try.
Ivor Andrews also scored his best try of the season after finding an outside gap in his own half and outsprinting the defence to score a magnificent 70-metre try.
Shanton Whitebooi converted to give his side a 29-8 lead. Brumbies attacked from their own 22-metre line.
Mains scored a late 30th-minute try after Burger brushed off four defenders and ran 15 metres, eventually offloading to Mains, who casually received the ball and scored. Brumbies ran in as convincing winners with 34-8.
"It was nice supporting play today, but there is still more room for improvement," said Brumbies coach Ricardo Abrahams. "We are looking to finish in the top 10 of the Grand Challenge.
"Sheldon Nelson, Gareth Burger and Antonio May, just to name a few, played exceptionally well today and I am very proud of the entire group for their collective effort that make this victory so special."
Brumbies 1st Reserves won 7-6. Edgar Tarentaal scored a try converted by Duane Brown. The Brumbies Second Team also won 6-0. Steve Abrahams slotted two conversions.