WELLINGTON, New Zealand ( Associated Press) – The ACT Brumbies have proved yet again that they are the biggest hope of an Australian victory and the biggest obstacle to New Zealand’s success in Super Rugby Pacific this season.
The Brumbies’ classy, sweeping victory over the Hamilton-based Chiefs on Saturday was their third in succession and their best ever win against a New Zealand rival.
While their nearest Australian rivals the Queensland Reds slipped down the table with an unexpected defeat to the Dunedin-based Highlanders, the challenge ahead of the Brumbies became bigger when the Crusaders and Blues posted high-scoring victories.
The Auckland-based Blues beat the Melbourne Rebels 71-28 in Auckland, taking four attempts in the first 12 minutes and rarely faltering at that frantic pace.
The Christchurch-based Crusaders beat Western Force 53-15 in Perth to set their season back after losing to the New South Wales Waratahs last weekend.
After defeating the Chiefs, Highlanders and Hurricanes in consecutive rounds, the Brumbies face the Crusaders next week and the Blues next week in matches that will reveal the team most likely to win the championship.
Every match since the start of the Trans-Tasman Round has been a step forward for the Brumbies and they have made that move with ease. Each of the next two rounds would test them, but the manner in which their victories over the Chiefs suggested they would be well-matched with the top two New Zealand teams in the Games would likely see a contrast in styles.
In a commentary, Chiefs and All Blacks captain Sam Kem described the Brumbies as a “benchmark” in this season’s tournament.
The Brumbies have always had a reputation as a well-organized and methodical team, sometimes the dour, which favors pattern over spectacular. This year they have taken the elements of communication and understanding, unity of purpose and quality of execution to a new level.
There was a feeling at every stage of the match against the Chiefs that every player in the Brumbies jersey was clear about his role, that every stage was rehearsed and prepared for every contingency.
It starts with a powerful and well-drilled forward pack that works with precision on set pieces. Throughout the season, the main team in the Machine and especially against the Chiefs is Scrumhaf and Captain Nick White.
His precise kicking is an important part of the Brumbies game, especially in competitive conditions. His team’s high level of execution at the breakdown gives him options to bring the backline into play and he makes those choices calmly.
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson took note of his team’s blockbuster clash with the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.
“He goes to his mall when he needs to, and Nick White is very important,” Robertson told New Zealand news website Stuff.
“We know they can play and it’s going to be one hell of a match. The Brumbies games are the ones you want to play. We have such a great history. Both teams have won some really big fights, we at the table know the importance.”
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