DURBAN: The new generation ACT Brumbies have arrived as a genuine title contender and cemented their place in Super Rugby history as they romped to a superb win in South Africa on Sunday morning.
In one of the best performances of the club's new era, the Brumbies trounced the Durban Sharks 29-10 at Kings Park.
It means the undefeated Brumbies will be a force in year two of Jake White's plan to rejuvenate the club.
A first-half demolition set up the win in the team's first clash against an international opponent this year.
It was just the second time the Brumbies had beaten the Sharks in Durban despite the franchise's rich history.
But more importantly it was their seventh consecutive win away from Canberra – a record unmatched by any team in Super Rugby's 18 seasons.
The winning streak stretches back to April last year when the Brumbies toppled the Johannesburg Lions at Ellis Park.
And if there was any lingering doubt about the young Brumbies and their title credentials, they erased them all with a scintillating display.
The Brumbies had two tries in the first 15 minutes to Jesse Mogg and Joseph Tomane and when Matt Toomua and Henry Speight crossed before the break, they had a four-try bonus point before half-time.
Their efforts fired a warning shot to their Super Rugby rivals.
The Sharks were unbeaten after three matches and were in the final last season.
But the Brumbies outclassed and outsmarted their more established opponents on their way to an 19-point win.
“We're extremely happy, we expected an extremely tough game and we got that,” Brumbies captain Ben Mowen said.
“We know against the Sharks you have to be extremely physical. It's another massive challenge next week in Africa and it will be a tough game. We'll have a little break, freshen up and then focus on next week.”
At one stage the Sharks had made three times as many tackles than the Brumbies.
Some have accused the Brumbies of having a boring and simple game plan. But in the first 40 minutes they threw the ball around like a hot potato with 16 off loads and a frenetic attacking style.
It yielded four first-half tries, but they had to adjust after the break as their fast pace took its toll, players went down injured, the rain started to tumble and the Sharks found their groove.
The Sharks scored 10 minutes after the break. It was their first try in three weeks and the first time an opponent had managed to cross the Brumbies' line in a second half this season.
White started a four-year mission to rebuild the Brumbies from last season.
They surprised everyone by finishing frustratingly short of a finals berth. The second year they won't settle for missing out again and they're undefeated after four matches.
Their first half against the Sharks was all about a demolition job while the second half was built on guts and determination as they repelled the rallying Sharks and always held a comfortable lead.
At times the bench resembled a casualty ward with Jesse Mogg, Nic White, Peter Kimlin and Scott Sio all limping to the sideline.
But the fight and grit in the new era is outstanding and they were never seriously troubled against one of the strongest teams in the competition.
The Queensland Reds' loss to the Western Force on Saturday night helped the Brumbies open a healthy lead at the top of the Australian conference.
Their bonus-point win moves them to 23 points, 10 points clear of the 2011 champion Reds.
The Brumbies will now turn their attention to a clash in Jake White's home town – Cape Town – against the Stormers next week before returning to Canberra.
ACT BRUMBIES 29 (Jesse Mogg, Joseph Tomane, Matt Toomua, Henry Speight tries; Christian Lealiifano 3 conversions, penalty) bt DURBAN SHARKS 10 (Ryan Kankowski try; Patrick Lambie penalty, conversion) at Kings Park, Durban last night. Referee: Jonathan Kaplan