The Brumbies threw plenty at the Crusaders but couldn't clinch a round one win.
Here's what we learned.
1. These Brumbies might surprise a few
They were a self-admitted unknown quantity coming into round one and many took a swathe of experienced departures as a sign they were rebuilding. Though they won’t return to Canberra with a win, they did get a point for their efforts against an in-form Crusaders team. It’s a result few expected and shows they might just shock a few more teams as the season rolls on in 2017.
2. There’s some guts in this Brumbies side
This is not the Brumbies side of old, but a 44-15 tackle count in the first half hour showed there’s still a strong vein of character running through this team. After conceding an early try, the Brumbies were forced to defend for the better part of the opening half and managed to keep their counterparts away from the line. A yellow card for James Dargaville made that task tougher but this new-look side managed to hang in under immense pressure. They finished with 93 tackles for the night and a big tick for the ticker of this team.
3. Izzy getting even better?
He’s recently committed his future to the Crusaders and Canterbury fans will be even more grateful for that after Saturday night’s performance. Dagg played a hand in both of his side’s first two tries and was a potent force in attack. The 28-year-old’s form looks ominous, after a career-best 2016 and the scariest thing about it? He’s probably not even the best 15 in New Zealand.
4. Back row buddies set the tone.
David who? Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves but the Brumbies new backrow certainly made its impact felt against the Crusaders. Blindside flanker Scott Fardy led the way with 11 tackles, in a damaging combination with new flanker Chris Alcock (11 tackles, three turnovers). Their influence in the breakdown was critical as the ACT franchise fought to keep themselves in the game, but
5. Hawera starting strong
Rookie flyhalf Wharenui Hawera, from New Zealand’s Southland had a rusty start but he found his way into the game at the Brumbies’ steering wheel. He has a handy mentor in Christian Lealiifano, who is back in the training sphere and travelled with the team to Christchurch this weekend. The 23-year-old settled in as the game went on and while some of his in-play kicks missed their mark, he didn’t have the same troubles in front of goal.