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What we learned: Pretoria Bulls v ACT Brumbies

JJ Engelbrecht of the Bulls tackes Nic White of the Brumbies. Click for more photos

Super Rugby round 15: Pretoria Bulls v ACT Brumbies

The ACT Brumbies take on the Pretoria Bulls at Loftus Verfeld in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo: Gallo Images

SCORBOARD

PRETORIA BULLS 44 (Jono Ross 2, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson tries; Jacques-Louis Potgieter 6 penalties; Potgieter 2, Handre Pollar conversions) bt ACT BRUMBIES 23 (Henry Speight, Ben Mowen, Tevita Kuridrani tries; Christian Lealiifano 2 penalties, conversions) at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday morning. Referee: Craig Joubert. Crowd: 16,463.

THE FORM SLIDE

The 21-point loss to the Bulls marked the end of a five-week "season-defining" run for the Brumbies and they finished with just two wins. The good news is that their two wins were against competition front runners the Durban Sharks and the Waikato Chiefs. The bad news is that their losses were so bad, most people have forgotten about their wins. There are worrying signs at Brumbyland with the finals just three games away. The scrum has struggled in recent weeks and the Brumbies' backs have been starved of good, fast attacking ball. The NSW Waratahs have shown what backlines can do when playmakers get time and space. But whenever Matt Toomua or Christian Lealiifano touches the ball, the defence is already on them. The Brumbies are lacking go forward and that's being reflected in their form slump. They have lost top spot on the Australian conference, conceded 91 points in their past three losses - almost a third of their season tally - and are fighting to keep their finals hopes alive. The defence needs to be worked on. There were too many soft tries against the Bulls.

THE RUN HOME

The Brumbies play the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra next weekend and desperately need to win before the three-week international bye. A loss would all but cripple their finals hopes, but a win would keep them well in the hunt. When the season resumes, they play the NSW Waratahs, have another bye and then finish against the Western Force. The simple equation is that the Brumbies need to win all three games. If they lose one, they're shot ducks. Three wins still might not get them into the top six, with the Waratahs well placed to lock up the Australian conference guaranteed spot and the Force lurking. After ending a 10-season finals drought last year, the Brumbies could fall from grand finalists to missing the top six if they don't rediscover their form.

THE SLOW STARTS

Failing to fire in the opening exchanges is handcuffing the Brumbies this season. Instead of level pegging or in front, the Brumbies have been well beaten in the opening 20 minutes against the Canterbury Crusaders, the Free State Cheetahs and the Pretoria Bulls. What makes it more concerning is the fact the Brumbies said they were preparing for the Bulls' match like it was a "mini grand final". That pre-match intensity wasn't transferred on to the field and the Brumbies trailed 20-3 after just 25 minutes. Ill-discipline gave Bulls playmaker Jacques-Louis Potgieter a chance to practise his goalkicking from around the field. The Brumbies are intent on making amends against the Melbourne Rebels next weekend. But the last time teams met, the Rebels stunned the Brumbies at AAMI Park, despite the Brumbies scoring the first try in the first five minutes.

THE MATFIELD FACTOR

Springboks great Victor Matfield is 37, has just come out of retirement and should be coaching instead of playing, but his presence played mind games with the Brumbies. Brumbies captain Ben Mowen admitted the team's set piece was caught worrying what lineout expert Matfield would do rather than concentrating on their own game. It showed. The usually sound and competition leading Brumbies lineout turned over too much ball and squandered good attacking chances. Matfield has just been named in the Springboks squad for the June Test series and the Rugby Championship. He obviously still has what it takes to run the lineout. He knew every Brumbies move and poached possession. "I certainly felt we were more concerned about what he was doing rather than our own drill," Mowen said of Matfield. "We have to be consistent on the drill because generally you win the ball if you do that. But we were inconsistent and we brought [Matfield] into it." Matfield also set up the first try of the match, slipping through some lazy Brumbies defence, throwing a dummy and then finding Jan Serfontein.

TEVITA'S BUZZER BEATER

What a difference a year makes. Tevita Kuridrani was the Brumbies' trying-scoring hero in the semi-final win against the Bulls in Pretoria last year. His 78th minute try lifted the Brumbies into the grand final and ended the Bulls' unbeaten play-off streak at Loftus Versfeld. The Fijian centre scored in the same minute in this year's clash, but it was consolation if anything. The Brumbies were well and truly beaten by the time Kuridrani crashed over after picking up a loose ball. It showed the Brumbies hadn't given up and they then pushed for a bonus-point try to try to take something out of the game. They fell short and return to Australia with one point from their two matches in South Africa. It's their worst return since their 2011 tour. It was also their first trip back without World Cup-winning Springboks coach Jake White. Maybe the Jake effect had more of an impact than was first thought. White's biggest attribute was making the players believe they could do the impossible. That was evident in his new team's tour of New Zealand, the Durban Sharks beating the Canterbury Crusaders and the Auckland Blues despite being under-manned in both contests.

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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs HIG 17:35WS
BRU vs FOR 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU vs LIO 17:35QBE Stadium
RED vs WAR 19:40SS
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT vs BUL 02:05FSS
STO vs SHA 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs BLU 17:35FMG Stadium
FOR vs REB 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs LIO 14:30AMI
HIG vs WAR 17:35FBS
RED vs BRU 19:40SS
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO vs CHF 00:00DHL Newlands
CHT vs SHA 02:05FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG vs HUR 17:35FBS
REB vs LIO 19:40AAMI
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs CHT 17:35AMI
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL vs FOR 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs CHF 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
WAR vs BRU 16:05AS
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs REB 17:35WS
RED vs LIO 20:00SS
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs FOR 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
WAR vs STO 20:40AS
FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
BUL vs RED 00:00Loftus Versfeld
LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
RED vs HUR 17:05SS
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
RED vs REB 20:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
RED vs CHF 20:40SS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 20:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Brumbies 3 2 1 0 47 10
Hurricanes 3 3 0 0 47 13
Stormers 3 3 0 0 26 12
Cheetahs 2 2 0 0 7 9
Chiefs 3 3 0 0 31 13
Rebels 3 1 2 0 -5 6
Highlanders 2 1 1 0 1 5
Sharks 3 1 2 0 3 6
View all
 
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