Brumbies vs Chiefs: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Brumbies trounced the Chiefs in Canberra on Saturday night.

What are we talking about after that?

1. Whoop, there it is

Brumbies fans had to wait until round 16 to see the Brumbies’ spark shine through last year.

Less than 20 minutes into Saturday night’s game, it was clear the wait would not be so long in 2019.

Tom Banks scored a superb runaway try in the 17th minute and Chance Peni added a second three minutes later, both engineered by a pinpoint Christian Lealiifano pass.

Three more tries built off their forward platform gave them the highest first-half score since the 2004 Super Rugby final and by the time the final whistle blew they had the first half-century by an Aussie team against a Kiwi opponent since 2016.

2. Brumbies put the foot on the throat

The Brumbies burst out of the blocks in Canberra but even as they took a 23-point lead into the break, Australian rugby fans would have been echoing James Slipper’s half-time views that the job was only half done.

But instead of being run down, the Brumbies weathered the storm from the Chiefs and continued to pile on the points.

It's the kind of display that some other sides could certainly learn plenty from and Aussies will be hoping it's not the last.

3. Lealiifano back to his best

Christian Lealiifano turned back the clock in Canberra. Photo: Getty ImagesTo say Christian Lealiifano has had a tough couple of years would be an understatement, but the flyhalf looks as close to his best rugby as he has since before a 2016 Leukaemia diagnosis.

Lealiifano said in the preseason that he finally felt like he was nearing full fitness 

The Brumbies 10 set up three Brumbies tries and was the focal point in the attack throughout the night.

Showed his class off-field too, making sure to congratulate his Chiefs counterpart Brodie Retallick on 100 Super Rugby games after the match.

4. Spreading their wings

This was a scintillating Brumbies performance but it’s easy to forget that it came without their two starting wings from last weekend.

Henry Speight and Toni Pulu both missed Saturday’s match, opening the door for Chance Peni and Andy Muirhead to step up.

And step up they did - both were among the best against the Chiefs.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar might need to reach for the Nurofen again this week when it comes to selections.

5. No-frills backrow does the grunt work

David Pocock was sitting on the sideline on Saturday and while no one would say the star flanker is replaceable, the back row was another show of the Brumbies' depth.

Lockie McCaffrey was at his consistent best, scoring a try and setting up another, alongside his usual tireless work.

Alongside him, youngster Rob Valetini finished with 10 tackles and Tom Cusack, stepping into Pocock's no. 7 had nine tackles as well.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said post-match he hoped Pocock would be back for their trip to Wellington, the performance of those others will be easing any sleepless nights.