Brumbies captain Sam Carter was never willing to write off 2017 for rebuilding and a month into the season, his team is backing up his bullishness.
The Brumbies fell in their opening two matches by a combined nine points, before a tight win against the Force broke their duck.
Saturday’s win over the Waratahs was their biggest margin of the year and their third consecutive win over their northern rivals.
Their next step is to go from gritty victors to winning with breathing space.
“The mindset throughout the whole preseason that we weren’t just going to be a team that was building, it was a team that wanted to win,” he said.
“It was tough taking those two losses over in New Zealand to the Crusaders and losing on the bell to the Sharks that was tough for us.
“Once we got the first win against the Force, it started to build a little bit of confidence within the group and we had a really good training week this week and we came up here with good intent and we came out with a really good result.
“That’s our mindset going forward - it’s not just to hang in there, it’s to actually win each week.”
A run of nine straight Australian derby wins, a Super Rugby record, would surely send a statement to the wider rugby world about the Brumbies’ value in any future competition format, but Larkham said it was ‘irrelevant'.
What pleased Larkham was the growth in a team that has grown in the absence of big names David Pocock, Stephen Moore and Joe Tomane.
“I think we’ve seen that we’ve learned a lot out of the first three rounds, particularly the first two rounds,” he said.
“We’ve been through a fair bit as a group and we’ve still got a fair way to go but it’s pleasing to see the way they’re combining on the field and the composure they have for such a young group.” - Stephen Larkham
At the other end of the scale, a game-breaking double from Henry Speight and the strength of experienced workhorses Carter, Scott Fardy and Ben Alexander set the tone for the crucial win.
“In our reviews we’ve spoken about the last five minutes of a game and how we want to handle it,” Larkham said.
“It certainly comes down to the leaders on the field and it says a lot about them.”
The Brumbies take on the Highlanders next Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT.