‘Brumbies of old’: Crusaders brace for humdinger against impressive Aussies

The Brumbies of old. That’s what Scott Robertson thought when he got a look at them doing a number on the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.

Crusaders head coach Robertson was on the team bus in Perth, headed to HBF Park for their round 12 match against the Force, and wasn’t about to waste an opportunity to do some scouting.

It’s fair to say he was impressed with the Brumbies’ third win on the trot against Kiwi teams, and their first on New Zealand soil.

“They go to their maul when they need to, and [captain] Nic White is so important…we know they can play, and it’s going to be a hell of a match,” he said ahead of Friday’s fixture against the 10-1 Brumbies in Canberra.

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“The Brumbies games are the ones you want to play in, we’ve got such a great history…both teams have won some really big battles, we know the importance on the table.”

Robertson was speaking after his team got back on track by thumping the Force 53-15, a result which very much keeps their top-two hopes alive.

Crusaders loose forward Pablo Matera was outstanding against the Force in Perth on Saturday night.
Paul Kane/Getty Images

Crusaders loose forward Pablo Matera was outstanding against the Force in Perth on Saturday night.

However, four points behind the second-placed Brumbies heading into their week 13 clash, they’ll have to knock the form Aussies over to avoid drifting off the pace before returning home for their final two regular season matches, against the Drua and Reds.

The good news for the Crusaders is they’ll welcome captain Scott Barrett back from suspension for the match against the 2001and 2004 champions, one they’ll go into with confidence after righting some wrongs in Perth on Saturday night.

Robertson sure cut a more relaxed figure after the eight tries to two romp, knowing the importance of a bounce back performance after they produced what he called the “worst 20 minutes” of rugby under his watch since 2017 against the Waratahs last week.

“It was more about how we talk about having the deepest prep, it was pretty superficial. Obviously, they were pretty hungry and desperate, the Waratahs, and they’re a good side, take nothing away from them,” Robertson said.

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson, left, and Cullen Grace, who filled in at lock against the Force on Saturday.
Paul Kane/Getty Images

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson, left, and Cullen Grace, who filled in at lock against the Force on Saturday.

“But we disrespected them in our preparation, and this week the week we’ve had here, totally contrasting. I think the effort reflected that.”

What made their bounce back win against a side Robertson said should have beaten the Blues the previous week more impressive was the fact that they lost four players – Oli Jager, Zach Gallagher, Mitch Drummond, and Dominic Gardiner – to Covid-19 ahead of kickoff.

Teenagers Seb Calder, left, and George Bell debuted for the short-handed Crusaders against the Force in Perth on Saturday.
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