The Brumbies sprung a Super Rugby surprise in Sydney.
What are we talking about after their 40-31 win over the Waratahs?
1. Momentum goes out the window for Waratahs
The Waratahs have spoken a lot about the importance of momentum going into finals and they won’t have much of that in the quarter-finals. It was one of their most insipid performances of 2018, more evocative of the poor NSW side that fronted up in 2017 than the one that has inspired plenty of fans this season. Some sloppy defence and panicked attack put them on the back foot against a Brumbies team playing the best rugby they’ve played in recent memory. Now, the Waratahs have to wait to see if the Bulls can pull off an upset over the Lions so they can stay in second, or face the potential of a long road trip should they make it through to the semi-finals.
2. Nothing to play for, nothing to lose.
They might have ostensibly been playing for nothing on Saturday night but the Brumbies sure looked like a team with a weight off their shoulders. They were chancing their arm, stringing slick multi-phase plays together and pulling off some career-best moments against the Waratahs. It was a performance that probably had many Brumbies fans wondering where that had been for the past 18 weeks. Ironically, had the Rebels lost to the Highlanders by just two more points earlier today, the Brumbies would still be alive in the Super Rugby competition.
3. Kuridrani ticks off another Bledisloe audition
Tevita Kuridrani is well and truly in front when it comes to the race for the Samu Kerevi’s replacement. He has been a man on a mission since the incumbent outside centre went in for surgery. Kuridrani was typically monstrous in defence finishing with 17 tackles, but it was his spark in attack that shone through. The 26-year-old set up a try for replacement winger Lausii Taliauli with a strong fend and a clever chip kick, showing some of the weapons rarely seen from the Brumbies veteran. Certainly, Wallabies fans and staff will be hoping he can replicate that in the gold jersey come August.
4. What’s that noise? No ref talk
Just 24 hours after one of the most controversial cards in Super Rugby memory, the silence that surrounded referee Angus Gardner’s performance on Saturday night in Sydney was a welcome change. Gardner is one of the most highly-respected referees and though there were two yellow cards in Saturday's derby, both were fairly black and white and neither disrupted the flow of the game.That efficient officiating kept the game flowing and made it one of the better games of the season. More of that, please.
5. Carnage for Brumbies
It’s probably a blessing in disguise for the Brumbies that they were already out of the finals before kick off in Sydney, with a host of their stars forced into early exits. First it was Isi Naisarani hobbling off almost immediately after scoring a super try. Then Henry Speight limped off with an ankle injury just before half-time. It's been a brutal season for them and now the silver lining is they have time to reboot and recover ahead of 2019. And they'll need every moment.