Brumbies are in fine fettle for Reds clash
Brumbies 38 ACT XV 7
ACT Brumbies v ACT XV
The Brumbies get into a team huddle. Photo: Getty Images
Quade Cooper was throwing punches but the ACT Brumbies were landing the final blows as they prepare for their Super Rugby redemption against the Queensland Reds next week.
The Brumbies finished their pre-season campaign with a 38-7 win over the ACT XV at Viking Park on Friday night.
They begin their bid to end an eight-season finals drought when they take on the Reds at Canberra Stadium on February 16.
The Reds were the only Australian team to beat the Brumbies last season and they stole the ACT's spot in the play-offs when Jake White's men stumbled at the final hurdle.
The Reds had their final hit-out of the pre-season against the Waikato Chiefs without Cooper, who was making his boxing debut on Friday night, regular skipper James Horwill and Will Genia.
''I know the way Ewen [McKenzie] prepares his team, he always makes sure they're right to go,'' Brumbies captain Ben Mowen said.
''They've known we're up against them in round one and they've known they wouldn't have Quade for the last trial so I think they've set some things in place so they'll be ready regardless."
Brumbies coach Jake White will go into the season satisfied with his team's preparation.
They beat the Force last week and had a strong hit out against a defiant ACT side.
At times they were sloppy in wet conditions, but White got a glimpse of all the good things.
Clyde Rathbone ''has still got it'', scoring two tries and pushing a fairytale Super Rugby return after another solid performance on the wing.
Persistent injuries forced Rathbone to retire in 2009 and he battled depression while away from the game.
But looking as fit as when he played 21 Tests for the Wallabies, the 31-year-old is a genuine chance of making his comeback against the Reds.
White and backs coach Stephen Larkham will have to choose between Rathbone, Henry Speight and Joseph Tomane to fill the two wing spots. The back line has potential to be a potent attacking weapon.
Christian Lealiifano showed why he was the most consistent player in Australia last season before an ankle injury ended his campaign.
Matt Toomua made a successful comeback from a knee reconstruction and combined well with Lealiifano as the flyhalf-inside centre pairing.
And marquee recruit David Pocock scored in his first game in the capital as a Brumby.
Pat McCabe (neck) and Josh Mann-Rea (knee) will miss round one.
ACT BRUMBIES 38 (C Rathbone 2, D Pocock, J Mogg, S Moore, N White tries; C Lealiifano 4 cons) bt ACT XV 7 (S van der Walt try; S Windsor con).