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Tahs have finals say on Brumbies


Chris Dutton, David Polkinghorne

The run home to the Super Rugby finals for Australia's top two teams.

The run home to the Super Rugby finals for Australia's top two teams. Photo: Marco Mana

A finals sprint between the ACT Brumbies and Queensland Reds begins tonight, but World Cup-winning coaches Rod Macqueen and Bob Dwyer have warned how the NSW Waratahs could spoil either team's chances.

The Brumbies and Reds both face the Waratahs in their final three matches, the fierce inter-state contests with the potential to determine the Australian conference champions.

The Super Rugby season resumes tonight after a three-week hiatus, the new-look Brumbies sitting five competition points ahead of the defending-champion Reds.

The Canberra Times spoke with former Wallabies coaches Macqueen, Dwyer, John Connolly and former Wallabies hooker Brendan Cannon about who will finish on top.

Who will make the finals - the Brumbies, Reds or both?

Macqueen: The Brumbies look like a well-oiled machine, but it's going to be difficult for two Australian teams to get in the finals. The Brumbies have turned it around, but the Reds are starting to find their form.

Dwyer: I think only one can get through. The Brumbies are in the key spot. Someone has to overtake them and I'd rather be where they sit instead of trying to chase down a margin.

Connolly: The way they come out of this break will be the big thing, it can change the momentum. You would think the Brumbies are going to make it, and the Reds are possibles but it's going to be a fight.

Cannon: On form you'd have to pick the Brumbies because of the way that they've been playing … if they win their last three games that secures them a play-off, so when you've got as clear a mandate as that it's pretty easy to put yourself there, whereas the Reds need to win every game with bonus points and hope things go their way.

What's better - youth and enthusiasm or a championship-winning team?

Dwyer: Experience means can you keep your focus with bombs exploding around you. Young guys can do that just as well as older guys. I think the Reds were playing better at this stage last year than they are now. They're without James Horwill and Ben Tapuai. The Brumbies are playing 100 times better this year.

Macqueen: I'd suggest the enthusiasm is only going to get greater. The Brumbies have got Stephen Larkham, Jake White and George Gregan so nothing is going to daunt them and that breeds confidence.

Connolly: Maybe the break will help the Brumbies, the hard thing for young teams is that they can't maintain form throughout the season. But the Reds will have that confidence after their run last year.

The Brumbies and Reds each play the Waratahs in the run home. Can the Tahs be the Australian finals pest?

Cannon: The Waratahs' season isn't going to get any better in their last two remaining games. It's just been a year of disappointment for them … and their pain's going to be intensified for the last two games.

Dwyer: Being in the Wallabies would have had a positive effect on the Waratahs players. I think the big threat to both the Brumbies and Reds is the Waratahs. They'll be playing for pride to end the season and they're going to be a real danger.

Macqueen: You only have to look at the amount of Test players the Waratahs have to know they're a good side. But at the end of the day, the Brumbies have been the most consistent team all year.

■ Who are the X-factors for the Brumbies and Reds?

Cannon: Zack Holmes has really impressed me in the couple of games that he's had. He's shown that he belongs, he hasn't appeared out of place, he's got a good confidence about him.

Connolly: Quade Cooper had one of the best seasons I've ever seen last year and they'll need him again but he's still getting back to form. The Brumbies have covered well for their flyhalf injuries and the true test for champion teams is their No.9 and No.10 and how they perform.

Dwyer: The fact the Brumbies have lost two flyhalves, to still be where they are is absolutely fantastic. Joe Tomane is a big loss, but Andrew Smith is really coming into his own. I think [Scott] Fardy might - underline might - be able to play No.6 for the Wallabies, he has plenty of grunt and mongrel across the board. Quade Cooper is a phenomenally good player.

Who's won the coaching battle: Jake White or Ewen McKenzie?

Dwyer: Ewen is extremely good tactically. The Brumbies have done a fantastically good job, but I don't know who is contributing what. If I took a guess, I'd say the specifics are contributed by Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher and the leadership, confidence and direction has come from Jake.

Macqueen: Jake has done a great job and he's come in and stamped his professionalism. Having Larkham and George Gregan there, it's nice to have those ingredients that have made the Brumbies successful in the past.

Connolly: The unsung hero for the Brumbies is Laurie Fisher. I think he's an outstanding coach and the Laurie Fisher and Jake team is a great combination. That's a great thing for the players.

Cannon: They've both got their own problems to deal with, but I think Jake's done an outstanding job with a really young group. You can just see they've got an adaptable game plan. They're still relatively inexperienced but they're playing with a composure and game management beyond their years.

Who's got the best run home?

Dwyer: The Brumbies have the [Auckland] Blues in the last round, you'd think they have the better there. If they're good enough, they're in the position to get there. What has happened in the past gives you confidence for what might happen in the future. The Brumbies have aimed up every game, that's really in their favour.

Macqueen: The Brumbies are taking it one step at a time and that's important. They will aim to top the conference and then semi-finals are a completely different beast.

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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 0vs ROM 0 02:45Leicester City Stadium
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 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
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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
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 3 0 3 0 -49 0
Uruguay 2 0 2 0 -107 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 3 2 1 0 56 11
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 2 0 2 0 -32 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 87 14
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Tonga 3 1 2 0 -22 6
Georgia 3 1 2 0 -71 4
Namibia 2 0 2 0 -58 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Canada 3 0 3 0 -71 1
Romania 2 0 2 0 -61 0
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