ACT Brumbies

Brumbies v. Crusaders preview

Brumbies v. Crusaders preview

It may only be week 4 of the SupeRugby season, but the Brumbies face a year-defining game against the Crusaders in Nelson on Friday night.

On the back of two disappointing losses to Melbourne and Queensland, the Brumbies face a huge task against a team that showed no mental scars of the recent events in the Canterbury region in disposing of the previously undefeated NSW Waratahs.

Expect this often if the Brumbies give away penalties

Having enjoyed an avalanche of possession in their first three matches, the Brumbies have shown that they can hang onto the ball. Unfortunately, it’s what they do with that amount of ball that is painting a worrying picture. Adding to this is a woeful discipline issue that has cost them victory in the last two games – despite scoring more tries than the opposition each time.

A total of 13 penalty goals has been scored against them in those games and they cannot afford to do this with a world class kicker like Dan Carter in the opposing team.

Matt Giteau’s leadership skills will be under the spotlight as his  team try to get a win against the Crusaders in New Zealand, something they have not done since 2000. The Brumbies backline has been misfiring so far this season and the pressure would only be mounting on Giteau to give his centres some space to work in.

The Crusaders, on the other hand, looked clinical in their last game and their new midfield combination of Sonny Bro Williams and Robbie Fruean looked promising. These two are strong ball-runners and will give Robbie Coleman and Adam Ashley-Cooper a tough encounter. Looking at their weight stats Coleman would be having nightmares, since he gives away 15–20 kilograms to his counterparts.

If only this was September...

They will be without Richie McCaw this week, but the Crusaders are able to slot in a ready-made replacement – something many teams would be envious of. The backrow combination have come together well and will need to be contained if the Brumbies want to win the breakdown.

The Brumbies have replaced Julian Salvi with Colby Faingaa, probably with an eye on the breakdown being a key battle area. Salvi has appeared a little off the pace so far this season and Faingaa has been impressive when give the chance.

In the Crusaders’ engine room Chris Jack makes his starting return, after stints with Saracens in the UK and Western Province in South Africa, and seems to have not missed a beat while away. He replaces Brad Thorn, which only goes to show that there is still room in the game for an old bloke. It will be interesting to see if he can remember his locking partner’s name; Sam Whitelock joins brothers Adam and George in the starting XV – Mrs Whitelock must be proud.

Key matchup: Pat McCabe v. Israel Dagg – McCabe has been one of the few solid performers in the Brumbies this season with his hard running of the ball a feature. Dagg has moved up the coast from Dunedin for the 2011 season and will be looking to cement his spot in the World Cup squad, after an impressive debut for the All Blacks in 2010.

Tip: Unless the Brumbies have dramatically worked on their discipline, among other things at training this week, I can’t see them walking away with a win here. Crusaders by 15+.

Brumbies: 15. Pat McCabe, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Robbie Coleman, 11. Francis Fainifo, 10. Matt Giteau, 9. Josh Valentine, 8. Ita Vaea, 7. Colby Faingaa, 6. Mitchell Chapman, 5. Mark Chisholm, 4. Ben Hand, 3. Dan Palmer, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Ben Alexander. Reserves: 16. Huia Edmonds, 17. Salesi Ma’afu, 18. Peter Kimlin, 19. Julian Salvi, 20. Patrick Phibbs, 21. Christian Lealiifano, 22. Matt Toomua.

Crusaders: 15. Israel Dagg, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Robbie Fruean, 12. Money Bill Williams, 11. Adam Whitelock, 10. Dan Carter, 9. Andy Ellis, 8. Kieran Read (c), 7. Matt Todd, 6. George Whitelock, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Chris Jack, 3. Ben Franks, 2. Corey Flynn, 1. Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: 16. Quentin MacDonald, 17. Owen Franks, 18. Brad Thorn, 19. Jonathon Poff, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Matt Berquist, 22. Tom Marshall.

Referee: Garratt Williamson (NZ)
Assistant referees: Vinny Munro (NZ), Mike Fraser (NZ)
Television match official: Kane McBride (NZ)

ACT Brumbies

Canberra born and bred Rugby fan brought up on Canberra Kookaburra and ACT Brumbies Rugby.

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