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Brumbies ready to rumble with Tahs


Chris Dutton

Big hit … Michael Hooper is tackled by Josh Strauss.

Big hit … Michael Hooper is tackled by Josh Strauss. Photo: Getty Images

JOHANNESBURG: The Brumbies left Canberra as a young squad but will return with a slice of history and the growing belief they can be genuine contenders this year.

The Brumbies ended their two-week stint in South Africa in the best possible way when they thrashed the Lions at Ellis Park. The win made Jake White's team just the third in Brumbies history to secure seven competition points or more on a two-game tour of South Africa.

All of a sudden, a drought-breaking finals appearance, the first in seven seasons, is within reach. In the past three weeks, they have scored 16 tries and conceded four. The Brumbies are safe at the top of the Australian conference for another week as they continue their resurgence. In nine matches, White has transformed them from last year's rabble into a team starting to be recognised as a serious threat.

But while they have already eclipsed their win tally from last season - beating the Lions was their fifth victory - the Brumbies are refusing to mention the 'f' word and are adamant they remain grounded despite the turnaround. ''[We] still don't want to think about [the finals],'' White said. ''We can't get ahead of ourselves, now we just worry about the Waratahs this week.

''If teams are sitting up and people are saying the Brumbies can now win [games], it's a great accolade to this group because everyone thought we were going to come last. The bottom line is there are a massive amount of positives out of that.''

The 14-point win marked a remarkable turnaround from a year ago when a loss to the Lions was a low point in the club's history. Now the Brumbies are gaining respect for their brilliant play and never-say-die attitude.

They lost to the Bulls in Pretoria last week, but secured two bonus points for losing by fewer than seven points and scoring five tries. Perhaps the biggest positive they can take out of their win over the Lions is the fact they were not at their best. They made plenty of mistakes, their defence was exposed multiple times and their goal-kicking was horrendous.

The margin could have been far bigger had Jesse Mogg and Christian Lealiifano been on target, but the duo nailed only two of eight penalty and conversion attempts. Still, the squad flew out of Johannesburg last night beaming with satisfaction.

Just two other Brumbies teams in Super Rugby history have left South Africa with a better record.

In 2000 and 2002 they arrived back in Canberra with two wins from two games. Those teams boasted George Gregan, Stirling Mortlock, Stephen Larkham, Joe Roff, George Smith and more.

But stand-in skipper Stephen Moore said the little-known Brumbies of 2012 are forging their own path, despite lacking established star power. ''I felt [there was something special here] from the moment I came back into pre-season,'' he said.

''We still haven't achieved anything and we're still learning, but everyone is working hard and it's a positive environment.

''I don't think I've ever come to South Africa and gone home with seven points … I'm over the moon.''

Winger Henry Speight scored a double, props Ruaidhri Murphy and Ben Alexander got across the line and Andrew Smith scored his second try in two weeks. But the play that impressed White most was when Lions winger Deon van Rensburg intercepted a pass and four Brumbies ran him down over 70 metres to stop him scoring.

The Brumbies' focus now turns to arch rivals the Waratahs and their clash at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night. If the Waratahs lose to the Crusaders today, the Brumbies will have a nice buffer at the top of the Australian conference.

The Brumbies hope their good form will attract the biggest home crowd of the season for the Waratahs.

''It's phenomenal that this young group has been able to do what it has done here [South Africa],'' White said.

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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