Rugby Union

What we learned: ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds

Pocock pilfering, pinching pills perfectly

The most valuable knee in Super Rugby got off to a cracking start, charging up 15 metres from the kickoff. Hardened from two seasons of gardening, David Pocock got through the full 80 minutes. But more importantly to Australian rugby, that ability to turn a game his team's way reared its beautiful head. With the game still in the balance in the shadows of half-time, Pocock went into a deep, dark place and got his soil-covered mits on the ball and earned a penalty to the Brumbies. A penalty kick to the corner, a rolling maul and then a couple of cut-out passes later, Joe Tomane was scoring a try in the corner. Match winning is clearly a skill you don't lose. 

The Brumbies want you

It's no secret new Brumbies chief executive Michael Jones wants to bring the crowds back to Canberra Stadium. He dearly misses the good old days of 24,000 people packing it out. He faced a tough start, having to go head-to-head with the multicultural festival and that would go a long way to explaining the attendance of 13,570. But can he turn the downward trend around? There were Big Bash League-like flamethrowers behind the goals - the first time they've  been in Canberra for a home-and-away game. There was also a casual bar with music out the front of the grandstand. Matt Toomua's cornrow haircut could also be another attempt to lure the fans...

Christian's kicking comes back

There was plenty of talk about Christian Lealiifano's super boot going walkabout last season as he struggled to get back to his blistering best after ankle surgery. But he seems to have put that all behind him, which can only be a good thing for not only the Brumbies but the Wallabies. He kicked seven from nine, including a few from the sidelines. Wallabies coach Michael Cheika no doubt watched on with interest from the grandstands. Let's hope that form continues through the season and he's producing some match-winning kicks in the Rugby World Cup later this year.

The Hunt becomes the hunted.

It was a shaky start for the former NRL-AFL player, who was making his Super Rugby debut at flyhalf. He'd put in an impressive display last weekend in the No.10 jersey to get the gig. But his attempt to start the game was a shocker, only going about 10 metres and barely getting above head height. He was also penalised for a couple of illegal shoulder charges - no doubt forgetting there's no AFL-style hip-and-shoulders allowed in rugby union. He was then on the wrong end of a trademark Matt Toomua hit, the Brumbies No.10 taking the opportunity to welcome Hunt to his new game. 

Flyhalf Matt Toomua shows off his new hairstyle.
Flyhalf Matt Toomua shows off his new hairstyle. Photo: Matt Bedford

Reds' crusade a rebel without a cause

While the Reds had eight players out, including Quade Cooper and James O'Connor, plenty was made of their pre-season win over the Canterbury Crusaders. Many experts predicted them to be back after finishing 13th last season, but they got absolutely thumped by a rampant Brumbies outfit. That pre-season win was well and truly put in context with the Melbourne Rebels knocking off the Crusaders on Friday night - the Rebels' first win on foreign soil since their inception. Maybe the Reds' victory over Canterbury wasn't an indication of how good the Reds were, but more where the Crusaders are currently at.