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Match Report | Round 9

Five things we learnt from Blues – ACT Brumbies

Written by Nathan Williamson, courtesy of rugby.com.au Source article
Five things we learnt from Blues - ACT Brumbies

The ACT Brumbies were unable to match a fast-starting Blues to go down 34-20 in Auckland.

At times, the Brumbies were their worst enemy against a Blues side that was clinical early to book their spot in the Final.

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So what did we learn?

1. The streak continues

The Australian side will have to wait another year to get their first finals win in NZ and the Super Rugby Pacific title after the Brumbies’ loss to the Blues.

They learnt how tough it is to take down a Kiwi side in high-pressure situations, who punished the Brumbies at any opportunity.

The Brumbies fought hard to ensure it wasn’t a repeat of their April defeat, even if the first 20 evoked memories of the 39-point defeat.

However, the Blues are built for the big occasion and they delivered when the game was there to be won, making it 19 straight for the New Zealand sides.

The Brumbies have improved in 2024, but there are still steps to take to get that breakthrough Final appearance.

2. Kickoff issues

The Brumbies’ exit from the competition can be summed up by problems with that third word: exit.

The pod of Swain, Pollard and van Nek twice couldn’t find their mark as the Blues went long, forcing the mistakes and easy field position as the Brumbies tried to clear their 22.

It allowed the Blues to control the contest and constantly answer the Brumbies’ penalty goals with tries, which proved the difference. The Blues had their only problems early but their defence was strong enough to hold them to three rather than seven.

The killer blow came in the 71st minute when Nick Frost collected Caleb Clarke in the air, leaving the Wallaby to spend the rest of the game on the sidelines.

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3. Clinical Blues

The Blues’ return to the Final was built off their ruthlessness whenever they entered the 22.

The two sides finished the game with equal entries yet the Blues were always in control on the scoreboard.

It’s a credit to their defence in the second half, withholding the Brumbies on several key drives in the first ten minutes. When they got one opportunity to strike, they delivered through their hulking number Hoskins Sotutu.

The Blues tasted success in a shortened trans-Tasman competition in 2021 but have not lifted the trophy in a complete competition since 2003.

4. Late setbacks disrupt Brumbies

The Brumbies’ issues begin well before the game as they lost Wallabies James Slipper and Tom Hooper before the game.

Hooper was ruled out early due to illness whilst Slipper was set to play, only to aggravate his nagging calf injury minutes before kick-off.

Rhys van Nek was strong on his insertion to the starting side, providing the physicality and breakdown pressure, although the scrum was targeted when he was replaced.

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5. Underrated Rory steps up for Brumbies

Rory Scott is not one of the flashiest members of the Brumbies’ pack but he kept the side in it in the first half.

As the Blues tried to run away with the game, Scott’s presence at the breakdown was huge, winning a trio of turnovers, including two on his line when the Blues led 24-6 just before the half-hour mark.

He hasn’t been able to cement his spot in the Brumbies 23 this season but he’s a player to watch heading into 2024 and beyond.

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