Brumbies vs Lions: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Brumbies went down to South Africa's Lions on Friday night, takign their losing streak to four matches.

What did we learn from the chilly affair?

1. Brumbies have themselves to blame

The Brumbies dominated the possession and the territory in the opening half, going ever-so-close to scoring four times in the first half hour but falling short. Just a penalty separated them from the Lions at the half, nowhere reflecting the gap. Then, when their South African opponents had half a chance they made the Brumbies pay, through Sevens convert Kwagga Smith, and that was the ball game.

2. Bonus points no consolation

Another single-figure loss has left the Brumbies with their seventh loss of the year by a converted try or less, and plenty of regrets. The only blowout the Brumbies have conceded was a 56-21 loss to the Hurricanes in round nine but the tight defeats are the ones weighing their 2017 down, leaving them with a 3-8 record after 12 matches. The Brumbies can restrict teams and indeed kept the Lions to their first tryless opening half since 2014, but if you can't score yourself it almost doesn't matter. That 43-10 demolition of the Reds seems more and more like a blip on the radar each week.

3.Smith more than just a Sevens convert

Kwagga Smith’s move to XVs this season has more than paid dividends and he once agains provided a highlight for his side. Smith scored the only try of the match, in the 54th minute, pouncing on a Brumbies mistake, and forms a crucial part of the Lions’ hugely damaging backrow, with Ruan Ackermann and Warren Whiteley.

4. Aussies go sub-zero

The Brumbies’ fourth-straight loss put their points difference below zero for the first time this year, leaving the entire Australian conference with another low point to its rollercoaster 2017. All five Australian teams have negative points differentials at this point. In case you’re wondering, all the Kiwi sides have very healthy differentials, and the next worst conference leader is the Stormers, who have just a +7 boost.

5. Lions show their other side

That the Lions have one of the best attacks in Super Rugby is one of this year’s most common buzz phrases, but the South African high flyers showed they’ve got more than a silky backline. The Brumbies shot themselves in the foot but the Lions didn’t let them get over the line on a handful of occasions. Captain Warren Whiteley led the way on that front, with 16 tackles for the night.