Stormers vs Brumbies: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Brumbies clinched a key victory in Cape Town overnight.

What are we talking about after that 19-17 win?

1. Defensive grit shows both sides of Brumbies

The Brumbies threw themselves at the Stormers on Sunday morning - literally. The ACT side made a mammoth 226 tackles in Cape Town, with players across the board racking up huge numbers.

Rory Arnold led the way with an enormous 24 tackles but he had plenty of friends in that category as well.

It was an effort that coach Dan McKellar said post-match made him as proud as he has ever been of his side.

They were on the back foot going into the sheds after a bizarre TMO review handed the Stormers a pivotal penalty try but they didn’t let that get to them going into the second 40.

The Brumbies have plenty of backline fire power but when they have to, every player in this side can buckle down into a defensively-minded game and that they have the ability to do both will come in very handy as the season continues.

2. Brown shows Brumbies’ backrow depth

Only three weeks ago Jahrome Brown was a name few Brumbies fans would know. That is not the case anymore.

The Brumbies have a backrow depth better than almost every other Super Rugby side and they are having to call on every part of it.

David Pocock and Locky McCaffrey are big-name absentees but the loss even of a player like Rob Valetini has compounded their injury concerns.

Brown, though, eased many of those worries with a man-of-the-match performance in South Africa and his first Super Rugby start.

Pocock is expected to be back next week but the form of players like Brown give the Brumbies the comfort of knowing they don’t have to rush their players back from injury.

3. Patience is a virtue

So often this season, the Brumbies have tried to force half-chances into scores and have been left to rue opportunities gone begging.

On Saturday night, though, the Brumbies were as patient in attack as they were tireless in defence and it paid off.

Tom Banks scored midway through the second half, collecting a long range pass to go over in space, but it took 12 phases, almost all played within five metres of the Stormers’ line, to get there.

The Brumbies were happy to conitnue to back themselves close to the line and wait for the right option to come up.

It’s a sign of maturity that they were able to do that and it paid off.

4. France-bound Arnold will be missed

Rory Arnold is heading to France at the end of the year and the 27-year-old is doing a great job of showing Australia what they will be missing in 2020.

Arnold has been in career-best form for the Brumbies this season and he is showing the aggression that has kept him in the Wallabies frame in recent years.

Aside from his enormous defensive shift, the lock also had a hand in Pete Samu's opener for the Brumbies and scored one of his own in the first half as well.

It’s easy to forget that Arnold is still in some ways in his rugby infancy, a late adopter of the code, but his continual improvement is a reminder of the potential he is beginning to realise.

Competition for World Cup spots is as tight in the second row as it is anywhere else and Arnold is doing his best to ensure he will get a Wallabies swansong in Tokyo later this year.

5. Road win looms as season turning point

The Brumbies have made Canberra Stadium somewhat of a fortress this season but winning on the road had proven a stumbling block.

A win at a hostile Newlands Stadium is a huge tick in that category and victories in Africa are becoming somewhat of a habit for the ACT side.

It also, significantly, sealed their first set of consecutive wins this season.

The Brumbies have struggled to build momentum this season with impressive efforts followed up by lacklustre outings but they’ll be hoping this is the beginning of bucking that trend.

They head to Argentina to take on the Jaguares and a win there would keep them well and truly in touch with the Rebels and Waratahs at the top end of the Australian conference.