For several weeks now, the 2022 ACT Brumbies team has played to their peak. No stumbling, no missteps, and few errors that would give others a sense that they are anything less than Championship contenders.
A single blemish on their record against the Queensland Reds in Round 7 has been repaired. The Dan McKellar coached group has brushed off the majority of challengers and is now preparing for the season’s most anticipated clash: versus the Crusaders this Friday, May 13.
After a drought of major championships [bar the 2020 Super Rugby AU domestic title], observers can now see the 2022 ACT Brumbies for what they truly are. More than qualified to be at the top of the Super Rugby Pacific standings – only bettered by the Blues from Auckland; who themselves are evolving into a fresh and exciting version of their glory days of the mid-1990s.
Being ‘the best from the West (of New Zealand)’ it is only fitting then that two of the premier names in Southern Hemisphere rugby; the Crusaders and the Brumbies, should face off next week to seal what should be a crucial home quarter-finals berth (tbc).
2022 ACT Brumbies display Championship credentials against Chiefs
On Saturday in Hamilton, it was a classy performance from this 2022 ACT Brumbies outfit. Directed with the polish of a lead conductor, halfback Nick White had his men all singing from the same song sheet – a chorus of applause was heard out of FMG Waikato Stadium, as a revival from the home side was rebuffed, and a losing bonus point was not yielded.
“The boys really rolled up the sleeves tonight. Really proud of that effort. They’re an unbelievable side,” White told RugbyAU.com.
“We’d spoken about the intensity we’d have to go up. We’ve had a couple of good wins (over Kiwi sides) but they were at home. It’s very tough to come away and win.”
Too many recent matches have ended with narrow score lines, so Brumbies fans can take a lot from a multitude of positive outcomes achieved, in week one of this important segment of their team’s season. Such an important part too, with three weeks remaining for them to work on their strengths, and fine-tune the squad’s big game readiness.
Several positive points to identify include:
Winning on New Zealand soil
Denying their opponents a losing Bonus Point
Scoring from both Set Piece and Open Field Play
Balancing aggression with patience and smart Field Position
All those bullet points (and more) can be heralded ahead of the Crusaders match. They can be shared, underlined, and used as key motivation towards the side’s primary goal – a home playoff position. That is because the majority of all Super Rugby Pacific teams know, that the toughest place to visit in a knockout match is Canberra on a chilly night in June.
That’s not to say a win in Hamilton is easy. Many sides are ‘dealt to’ in the Tron. And over the years, it has cost many an Australian team dearly. However, the 2022 ACT Brumbies squad can still recall success from February 2020. Yes, recall the postponed season that ended up crumbling into two separate contests. They claimed a 14-26 win then – a similar scoreline to this recent victory.
— Stan Sport Rugby (@StanSportRugby) May 7, 2022
What it seems to show is that winning away from home is something this Australian team has deeply engrained in their memory banks. Established names like White, Rob Valetini, Noah Lolesio, and Tom Wright can use the experience of defeating the Chiefs twice in the last two years [on New Zealand soil] to boost their morale as they take on the Crusaders.
Absorb Chiefs win, clash with the Crusaders away from home
It could not have been scripted any better than this. Or any harder you might say; to face three of the top New Zealand sides over the last rounds of the Super Rugby Pacific calendar. Hard……no, it is a colossal task.
So the immediate challenge is the home side. Scott ‘Razor’ Robertson’s formidable Crusaders. An almost impregnable opposition for any visiting team. Though, the recent wins by away sides at Orangetheory Stadium should again be ‘food for thought’ for the intelligent Brumbies attacking group. They will have studied the wins by the Blues and the Chiefs in 2022, and the Highlanders and Chiefs in 2021.
The real factor to rely on will be the recent memory of the narrow 31-29 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman loss in May 2021. While it came after the ‘Saders had secured the local Aotearoa championship, the way that the Australian team hung in and even threatened to overcome the home side should add value to their plans. And also that planning better needs to be top-notch if they are to maximize any substance to the thought that the Crusaders can be beaten.
The success of the 2022 ACT Brumbies so far
From the highlights of their win over the Chiefs, this 2022 ACT Brumbies squad has a little bit more to offer than in past years. Ready and prepared for the Crusaders away, before they can return home; with either their home quarter-finals place intact, or they might have to rely on a victory over the high flying Blues to ensure their highest seed. So a lot rests on how well the Brumbies forwards combat the home teams, and how they can limit the attacking firepower with which men like Will Jordan and Richie Mo’unga are allowed to play.
The 2000/01/04 Champions have improved tremendously over the last five years. From a lowly 10th place finish in 2018, they have again shown the consistency that repeatedly saw them reach the playoffs. Incremental improvements gave them the confidence to win eight out of nine games against their domestic rivals. Now wins against the Highlanders, Hurricanes, and the Chiefs have positioned them well to throw all they can at the Crusaders.
And as ever, #CRUvBRU looks to be one of the most anticipated games of the Super Rugby season, so far.
ACT Brumbies v Crusaders – Friday, May 13. GIO Stadium, Canberra
“Main photo credit”
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