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Tahs have finals say on Brumbies

Date

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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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 41 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
HUR 29 vs CRU 23 Report Stats
REB 16 vs CHF 15 Report Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 25 vs STO 17 Report Stats
BUL 35 vs LIO 33 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 17:35AMI
REB vs BLU 19:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 17:35WS
FOR vs WAR 19:40nib Stadium
LIO vs HIG 23:00Emirates Airlines Park
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs BRU 01:05DHL Newlands
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 17:35EP
RED vs REB 19:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 17:35WS
WAR vs SHA 19:40AS
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs BRU 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
CHT vs HIG 03:10FSS
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 17:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 19:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 17:35Emirates Airlines Park
WAR vs CRU 19:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 21:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 01:05FSS
STO vs REB 03:10DHL Newlands
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 17:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 17:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 19:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 01:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 17:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 21:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 15:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 17:35EP
RED vs CHF 19:40SS
CHT vs WAR 23:00FSS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
STO vs LIO 01:05DHL Newlands
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 17:35EP
REB vs FOR 19:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 15:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 17:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 19:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 01:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
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Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
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Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
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Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Hurricanes 10 9 1 0 107 43
Bulls 11 7 4 0 48 34
Brumbies 11 6 5 0 93 32
Chiefs 11 8 3 0 77 38
Waratahs 10 7 3 0 32 31
Stormers 11 7 4 0 25 30
Highlanders 10 7 3 0 53 33
Lions 11 6 5 0 -45 27
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