JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

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.

Related Coverage

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
 
Featured advertisers