The Brumbies are safe in the knowledge they’ll host a Super Rugby quarter-final but coach Stephen Larkham says that’s not enough.
Their 32-3 win over the Rebels sealed the Australian conference lead and a home quarter-final, a match that will likely be played against a team from a New Zealand conference that has a 22-0 2017 record in trans-Tasman clashes.
Aside from a thumping at the hands of the Hurricanes, a game they led at the break, the Brumbies have been more than competitive against New Zealand sides, going down by single figures to the Crusaders, Highlanders and Blues.
A single figure loss won’t be good enough in a sudden-death final, though.
The Brumbies have one more chance in the regular season to snatch that elusive victory - a round 17 clash with the Chiefs - and Larkham said he felt adding more attacking threats would help them snap the drought.
“I think we’ve had a pretty good focus on trying to beat New Zealand teams for a while now and I think we haven’t done it for a while,” he said.
“If you look at our games, we had the Hurricanes at half-time, we’ve lost our other ones against New Zealand sides by less than seven points so we’re working towards creating a better balanced game and we feel if we get it right, we should be able to match it with those guys.”
Brumbies co-captain Sam Carter wasn’t thinking big picture after Saturday night’s game, simply pleased their preseason words have rung true after farewelling hundreds of Super Rugby caps at the end of 2016.
“When we were at the season launch, a lot of people asked me what’s it going to be like with all those players leaving and we said nothing changed for us.
“The focus was still the same, we still trained as hard as ever and that’s starting to pay off in the season but we’re still in the same position to take ourselves to the final, which is the most pleasing thing.”
Carter said the side’s recent round-the-world trip had been a blessing in disguise ahead of the Rebels match.
“The best thing for us was getting away for a couple of weeks in South Africa and Argentina,” he said.
“We had a big focus on this week being a danger week and we wanted to be really clinical in this game and the boys really bought in and did everything they said they were going to do.”
The Brumbies’ non-Wallabies players will have a week off before preparing for a match against the Asia-Pacific Dragons in Singapore during the June Test window.