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Brumbies ready to rumble with Tahs

Date

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.

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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