Super Rugby talking points: Combative Brumbies put Blues and Crusaders on notice

Australia’s most successful team in Super Rugby history isn’t just lurking, they’re on the charge.

Forget the Blues and Crusaders, at least for a few moments, and pay close attention to the combative Canberra-based Brumbies.

Some were reluctant to anoint them serious contenders after they knocked over the Highlanders and Hurricanes at home, suggesting they had to prove they could win in New Zealand first.

Challenge accepted, challenge completed – and convincingly.

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Their 38-28 win over the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday made it three Kiwi scalps in as many weeks, improving their overall record to 10-1.

That’s equal with the Blues, who have a two-point buffer at the top of the ladder on the back of their romp over the meek Rebels.

Brumbies flanker Pete Samu on the charge against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
PHOTOSPORT

Brumbies flanker Pete Samu on the charge against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

But Blues fans shouldn’t start planning for the playoffs to run through Auckland yet, not with a date against the Brumbies in Canberra in a fortnight.

Indeed, the Brumbies won’t just fancy their chances of beating the Blues on home soil, they’ll go into Friday’s humdinger against the Crusaders in the Australian capital confident of getting one over their old foe.

While Brad Thorn’s Reds went into the season touted as the top side from across the Tasman, there is no doubt the Brumbies aren’t just the best Aussie outfit, but one of the best teams in the competition.

Head coach Dan McKellar has constructed a team not just capable of matching it with the Kiwis, but one that can push them around and bury them.

Having bullied All Blacks captain Sam Cane, Pita Gus Sowakula and Luke Jacobson in Hamilton, Pete Samu, Jahrome Brown and Rob Valetini can mix it with any loose forwards trio in the competition.

The Brumbies have beaten three Kiwi teams in as many weeks, and are in position to go top of the ladder the next fortnight.
Mark Nolan/Getty Images

The Brumbies have beaten three Kiwi teams in as many weeks, and are in position to go top of the ladder the next fortnight.

No team is more effective than them at launching strikes from their efficient lineout, while their accurate and patient attack has proven it can turn field position into points without being too flashy.

To think the Kiwi bookies are still offering $9 for them to win the competition, behind the Blues and Crusaders (both $2.60) and Chiefs ($5.50).

The next two weeks will be telling for the two times champions (2001 and 2004) and four times runner-ups.

SKY SPORT

Highlanders storm home in the final quarter to defeat the Reds in Brisbane.

Highlanders breathe life into campaign

The prospect of all five New Zealand franchises making the playoffs looks likely on the back of the Highlanders’ 27-19 win against the lackluster Reds in Brisbane.

Say what you will about the ridiculous playoff format, but with just three wins to their name, you’d have to fancy the Highlanders’ chances of finishing inside the top eight with games against the Force (home), Waratahs (home) and Rebels (away) to play.

Kudos must go to Tony Brown’s troops for hanging tough and not throwing in the towel after starting the season 1-8.

Highlanders reserve halfback Folau Fakatava was key in getting his side over the line against the Reds in Brisbane.
Matt Roberts/Getty Images

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