Brumbies vs Rebels: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Rebels have opened 2019 with a 34-27 win in Canberra on Friday night.

What are we talking about after that Aussie opener?


1. Cooper return more than just hype

 Yes, it’s only round one. Now, we’ve got that out of the way - one look at Friday night’s clash in Canberra and the Rebels could be very satisfied with their highest-profile off-season acquisition.

New flyhalf Quade Cooper gave them direction and organisation in attack that the Melbourne side really lacked last year.

His combination with Will Genia was seamless and the 10 really brought the rest of the attack together.

Cooper helped engineer Jack Maddocks' match sealer in the second half and played the perfect team man role, also pulled off an important early tackle on Tevita Kuridrani as well.

Rebels coach Dave Wessels will be pleased with the impact of his debutant on the entire team.

2. Casualty ward gives Brumbies some concern

Toni Pulu lasted only 10 minutes in Canberra. Photo: WalmsleyThe Brumbies showed some positive signs when they got it together but they were left licking some worrying wounds in Canberra.

Watching David Pocock exit the game before six minutes elapsed with a concussion was not ideal and when Toni Pulu followed him four minutes later things threatened to turn ugly.

Winger Henry Speight added to the walking wounded when he went off in the 47th minute. It was a less than ideal way to kick off their 2019 campaign in front of their home crowd. An eight-day turnaround gives a little leeway but the Brumbies won't be rushing Pocock back.

3. McCaffrey, Samu pick up backrow load

Locky McCaffrey doesn’t get the plaudits of his more high-profile teammates much but he is almost always one of the names that pops up among the best on-field after a game. Friday was another example of his tireless work.

The veteran finished with eight tackles, two turnovers and 43 run metres - a fair effort from a no. 8 in a star-studded back row lineup.

Pete Samu was also solid in his Brumbies debut, with 12 tackles, some speedy runs and a turnover, showing signs of what he can bring to his new side after five years with the Crusaders.

4. Coleman with second row competition

You'd think Adam Coleman would be a first-choice name for the Rebels but the injured former skipper won't be walking back into the side after injury following a superb start from Matt Philip and Luke Jones.

Philip was arguably the best Rebel on the park on Friday night, and certainly the most industrious forward, taking a try and making 10 tackles in Canberra.

Alongside him, Jones was strong in defence and the lineout functioned well all night. 

5. Ol’ faithful helps Brumbies fire up

For all their attempts at expansive rugby, it was the rolling maul that once again proved to be their most effective weapon.

Lineouts and mauls proved a successful platform for three of the Brumbies tries, though they had some uncharacteristically wayward set piece moments.

In fact all four of their tries were scored by forwards on Friday night with only Kuridrani really going close to notching one for the backs.

The challenge for the Brumbies will now be whether they can unlock the spark they found at the back end of 2018 and certainly players like Tom Banks, who barely had a look in on Friday night, will be hoping they can.