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What we learned: ACT Brumbies v Durban Sharks

ACT Brumbies player Joe Tomane on a charge in the early minutes of the game. Click for more photos

Super Rugby: Brumbies v Sharks

The Brumbies take on the Sharks at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

SCOREBOARD

ACT BRUMBIES 16 (Sam Carter try; Christian Lealiifano 3 penalties, conversion) bt DURBAN SHARKS 9 (Frans Steyn 3 penalties) at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night. Referee: Glen Jackson. Crowd: 11,615.

THE RUNNING RUGBY?

Forget about running rugby, the top-of-the-table battle was all about a kicking duel. With more than 70 kicks inside the first 55 minutes, the game between the Brumbies and Sharks was an arm-wrestle more than a fast-flowing match. It was always going to happen with so much at stake for both teams. The Brumbies were desperate to beat the first-placed Sharks and former mentor Jake White. White's influence was all over the game. When he coached the Brumbies in 2012 and 2013, the Brumbies refused to take risks from inside their own half. Now the Sharks are doing the same and using Frans Steyn's booming boot to strangle teams. The tactics were clear. After 55 minutes, the Sharks had made 38 tactical kicks compared to the Brumbies' 34. The Brumbies want to play a free-flowing style this season, but the contest between the two best teams was a far cry from the high-scoring NSW Waratahs-Wellington Hurricanes battle last weekend. When the Brumbies finally got some fast ball at the breakdown, Nic White put Sam Carter through a massive hole for the first try. The interesting battle will be seeing which style can win the Super Rugby title. Or maybe it's a mixture.

TIME TO MOVE ON: JAKE

The Jake White era at the Brumbies is over and the World Cup winning coach felt a sense of relief after leaving Canberra Stadium. White quit the Brumbies last year, just two months after guiding them to the Super Rugby final. It shocked the players and club. White has maintained leaving was the right decision. But even with all his experience, White was still nervous. It wasn't the crowd's reaction to his comeback that had him a little on edge. White wanted to see the players he'd worked so closely with over the past two years. After the siren, White made a direct line for the Brumbies change rooms. He joked he was confused at which room he was supposed to be in. But it was a deliberate act to address Brumbies players before he had been to see the Sharks squad. White spoke to players individually, saying he was hugged by David Pocock and he felt it was time to move on. He's right, the Jake White chapter is almost over. There could be one final twist though. With the Brumbies and Sharks so close on the ladder, a finals match up is certainly on the cards.

THE DEFINING MOMENT

In a game dominated by kicking in general play, one try was enough to separate the top two teams in Super Rugby. It came from an unlikely source, Brumbies lock Sam Carter dashing 15 metres to score. Both camps after the match said the goal wasn't to play attractive rugby. There was a higher prize at stake, with the Super Rugby season winding down and crucial competition points up for grabs. But scrumhalf Nic White's decision making at the breakdown and Carter's surprising speed burst proved the difference. White saw a gap in the Sharks line, drew a defender and passed to Carter who scored. The Sharks had their chances to score from rolling mauls close to the line, but they failed to capitalise in the dying minutes.

WINGER'S CURSE

Just as the Brumbies start to get over their injury nightmares, winger Joseph Tomane was hit with the curse on the eve of a South African tour. Tomane now looks like a long shot to win a spot in the Wallabies squad for a three-Test series against France after suffering an eye socket injury against the Sharks on Saturday night. Tomane clashed heads with teammate Ben Alexander in the first half and was forced to leave the field. He was sent to hospital for X-rays to see if he can travel to South Africa with his teammates. It's a major blow for Tomane and the Brumbies. His start to the season was halted by a foot injury and now he faces another stint on the sideline. However, it could prevent a selection headache for the Brumbies coaches. Henry Speight is set to make his comeback from a broken jaw this week and will join the team in South Africa. Robbie Coleman has been outstanding in Speight's absence. But you've got to feel for Tomane. Every time he starts to hit top form, injury hits. He made his Wallabies debut in 2012 but played one Test before injuring his ankle. With his first touch in the first minute against the Sharks, the former NRL winger made a 50-metre break.

THE RESTARTS

If there's one area of the Brumbies' game that needs to urgently be addressed, it's their ability to get out of trouble after scoring points. Lock Sam Carter scored the first try of the match in the 65th minute to put the Brumbies on the front foot. But just when they needed to put the Sharks under more pressure, they dropped the ball at the kick-off and were under the pump immediately. It has happened far too often for the Brumbies this year. Their defence has been outstanding and regularly gets them out of trouble. But in tight situations, the inability to recover after scoring points looms as a game breaker.

WHITE'S RUNNING BATTLE

Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White continues to press his claims for the Wallabies No.9 jersey with some outstanding form. The diminutive scrumhalf set up Sam Carter for a try with some superb play at the breakdown and was willing to attack the line. He re-signed with the Brumbies and the ARU earlier in the week and the Wallabies will be relieved he decided to stay in Australia. But there was one running battle White had no control over on the field. Referee Glen Jackson was sick of hearing the chirpy No.9 and warned him to be quiet. Jackson has been in charge of the past two Brumbies games and has exchanged words with White on both occasions. Jackson's officiating left a lot to be desired. He penalised the Brumbies early on for shepherding off the ball when chasing a kick, but both sides did the same thing all night and he failed to punish them. He penalised White for not putting the ball in the scrum, despite the set piece failing to settle before the ball could go in. Meanwhile, Brumbies prop Scott Sio's superb work around the field has to put him in Test selection contention. Sio must be the best on-ball big man in the competition, regularly pulling off textbook steals at the breakdown.

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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 Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU vs LIO 17:35QBE Stadium
RED vs WAR 19:40SS
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT vs BUL 02:05FSS
STO vs SHA 04:10DHL Newlands
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Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs BLU 17:35FMG Stadium
FOR vs REB 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs LIO 14:30AMI
HIG vs WAR 17:35FBS
RED vs BRU 19:40SS
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO vs CHF 00:00DHL Newlands
CHT vs SHA 02:05FSS
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Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG vs HUR 17:35FBS
REB vs LIO 19:40AAMI
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs CHT 17:35AMI
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL vs FOR 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs CHF 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
WAR vs BRU 16:05AS
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Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs REB 17:35WS
RED vs LIO 20:00SS
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs FOR 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
WAR vs STO 20:40AS
FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
BUL vs RED 00:00Loftus Versfeld
LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
RED vs HUR 17:05SS
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
RED vs REB 20:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
RED vs CHF 20:40SS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 20:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
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Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
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Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
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Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Brumbies 4 3 1 0 59 15
Chiefs 4 3 1 0 28 14
Stormers 3 3 0 0 26 12
Cheetahs 2 2 0 0 7 9
Hurricanes 3 3 0 0 47 13
Rebels 3 1 2 0 -5 6
Highlanders 3 2 1 0 4 9
Sharks 3 1 2 0 3 6
View all
 
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