ACT Brumbies are due full Aussie credit
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 22: Matt Lucas of the Brumbies celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the Super Rugby Quarter Final match between the Brumbies and the Sharks at GIO Stadium on June 22, 2019 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Not always the most attractive and envigorating rugby side to watch, however, the ACT Brumbies are effective and often reach their high standards. So, as the lone standing Aussie Conference team, the side from Canberra is due full credit.

Due some valid acknowledgment of their higher class than most, as the most successful team out of Australia. Two time Super Rugby champions. This year was not their first time in a Finals Series quarterfinals, so it was no surprise for the Laurie Fisher coached side to advance to their semifinal clash this Friday night against the Jaguares.

Defeating the Sharks to reach that first goal may have looked easier than it should have been. Because it should have been the tough fight with the Durban-based Sharks team. It was forecast to be, yet for reasons that will disappoint South African fans, the Robert du Preez led team had all the talent but [sadly at this point in time] lacked the game plan.

In saying that, their 38-13 victory was exactly what the franchise and what Rugby Australia needed. A victory of substance, every bit as good as that of the Crusaders one a night earlier. Solid to open with, with a surge of early points, not allowing the opposition to get into their groove.

If anything, they certainly are due full credit.

Seven-game Winning Streak for ACT Brumbies

Full credit, and full of confidence now. That obviously is the best attitude to have when entering knockout rugby stages. Earned too, as the team acquired a string of victories at home that helped them to sweep past others, and become the Australian Conference winning side.

Led heroicly in 2019 by the rejuvenated Christian Lealiifano, the season has enjoyed highs and lows – yet reaching the semifinals allows teams to hit the reset button. To bank what they have done, fine-tune and revitalize their strategy. For the ACT Brumbies, that was one that was severely upset early in their season, due to an injury to a pillar of the playing group.

Without David Pocock for so much of the season, some assumed that the side had lost its true power base. True to a degree, although others have stood tall in his place. Veterans like Sam Carter, and young stallions like two-try hero Pete Samu. Promising loose forward Tom Cusack is another, who have maintained the clubs high standards set by Pocock…. and are the next generation for higher honours, in their national colours.

Backs like Tevita Kurandrani, who are game breakers that also distribute the ball to elevate the Brumbies potency. On defence and attack, so skilled in equal measure, he along with the mercurial Tom Banks, have shown purpose in driving the side’s effectiveness. With Lealiifano and try scorer Matt Lucas (see main picture), the team have emerged as a strong unit capable of confronting their semifinals opponent the Jaguares, on an equal footing.

Semifinals bound – Jaguares v Brumbies

Overcoming the internal threat from the Melbourne Rebels, then cruising past the Sharks in the quarterfinal, it leads now a date with destiny in Buenos Aires. A date with the highest rated South African conference side – another fine point of the flawed SANZAAR model.

That has positives and negatives. The positive being that the Brumbies finished the season in third place, even though the Hurricanes claimed more competition points. That finish place means that the Australians meet the ‘Jags instead of the current title holders, the Crusaders.

Is it an easier encounter? Maybe in rugby pundits eyes six months ago. But now? Hardly, as the South American team is close to an International quality team.

2019 has been even more successful for the Jaguares, than 2018 was.

Filled with Los Pumas players, as well as with some talented South American players, this group are highly motivated and importantly, at home.

Traveling might be the one impediment to the ACT Brumbies team’s chances. Flying to South America and acclimatizing will be a factor – a big change from the freezing nights of Canberra, So Laurie Fisher must hope his side adjusts quickly, to avoids the same inadequacies, that the Chiefs had when they were well beaten in the quarterfinal.

History favours the Brumbies, with an away victory in the playoffs once before. Can they repeat that effort in 2019?

On Friday night [Saturday morning in Australia], there is one more step for the Brumbies to take, to retake their natural place as the ‘cream of Rugby Australia’. If they can do that, then it will be a group effort.

And well worthy of praise. Full credit, and possibly onto the Grand Final 2019.

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Jaguares v ACT Brumbies – José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires

 

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images

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