Brumbies vs Sunwolves: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Brumbies shut out the Sunwolves in a big victory at GIO Stadium on Sunday.

What are we talking about after that 33-0 win?

1. Brumbies in box seat for finals

The Brumbies’ bonus-point win puts them on top of the Australian conference by one point and with arguably the easiest run home of the Aussie sides, they are in the box seat for finals.

With a bye next week, the Brumbies have one fewer match left than the rest of their Australian conference rivals but they’d be heavily favoured to take the points in all those matches.

They host the Bulls in a fortnight, shooting for their sixth consecutive win in Canberra, before heading to Tokyo to face off against the Sunwolves.

Two more derbies - against the Reds in Canberra and the Waratahs in Sydney - follow with the Brumbies having the opportunity to both collect points and restrict their conference rivals.

If they continue to show the skills they did on Sunday afternoon, there’s no reason they can’t keep rolling with their current form.

2. Horses for courses

Tom Banks celebrates the Brumbies win. Photo: WalmsleyThe Brumbies’ maul is a weapon,yes, but has captain Christian Lealiifano said before the match, it’s not their only weapon.

The Brumbies’ opening two tries were generated by open play and some strong Sunwolves defence stopped Folau Faingaa from scoring off a maul on their next real attacking chance.

In fact, none of the Brumbies tries came from a rolling maul and it proved a timely reminder that the ACT side has more strings to its bow.

Tom Banks, Henry Speight and Tevita Kuridrani were super for the Brumbies against the Sunwolves and their forwards packed a punch too.

This was not the best Sunwolves performance but it takes a strong team to shut anyone out and the Brumbies proved they can fire on both sides of the ball with their first shutout in four years.

3. GIO becoming a fortress

Almost all successful teams create a fortress for themselves at their home ground before they go on to be serious contenders and the Brumbies are doing exactly that.

The Brumbies’ win over the Sunwolves was their fifth home in a row and they looked near unstoppable, albeit against an understrength Japanese outfit.

Both the Brumbies and Rebels have an 80 per cent win record at home this season and it’s no coincidence that they are the top two Australian conference sides.

The Reds have won 60 per cent of their home matches while the Waratahs are further behind with just a 50 per cent return at home this season.

With a guaranteed home quarter-final for the Australian conference winner as well, a strong record on their home turf can only be a good thing when it comes to making it to the pointy end of the competition.

The only two teams with a better home percentage this season? The Crusaders and the Hurricanes.

4. Speight shows some spark

Henry Speight had scored just two tries all season before kick-off on Sunday afternoon.

By half-time against the Sunwolves, he had doubled that with two in the first half hour.

Speight’s was a display that Brumbies fans haven’t seen from the speedster certainly this season.

He could have had a hat-trick but instead popped the final pass to fullback Tom Banks, who had another stellar game as well.

Speight’s World Cup squad chances might still be only slim given his form this year but he showed with his attack, and a handy 10 tackles, that he still has plenty of value.

5. Casualty ward becoming a blessing in disguise

Pete Samu has been in strong form without David Pocock and Locky McCaffrey. Photo: WalmsleyThe Brumbies’ defence and set piece was monstrous against the Sunwolves on Sunday and it is still worth remembering that they are doing all this without two of their grittiest defenders.

They have now been without David Pocock since round four and Locky McCaffrey since round nine but their defensive strengths only seem to be increasing.

It is still unclear when the pair will be back but with another impressive game from Tom Cusack, Pete Samu and Jahrome Brown, no one is losing sleep over the delays.

Brumbies fans, though, can surely only be eagerly anticipating the return of those stars to add to a team that is seems to be peaking at the right time.