Emotions won’t be too far below the surface for the Brumbies and it will depend on their ability to control and channel these emotions that will determine the result.
A positive for the Brumbies is the Stormers total lack of cohesion so far this season. I’ve not seen all their games, but the ones I have seen, they don’t look at all like a team that is heading in the right direction. It looks as if the big-guns of the team are happy to sleep walk through this year’s competition and keep themselves safe for the up-coming Lions tour later in the season.
On the field, the Brumbies have been pretty ordinary, despite last weeks result; think the loss to the Lions and the meek capitulation to the Sharks. They have struggled to find rhythm and there have been too many inconsistent performances from players who should be doing better.
What has been a positive for the Brumbies is the recent form of Tyrone Smith and Mitch Chapman as well as the continued excellence of Gerrado. T Smith is providing a good target in the centres and keeping the opposition honest with his ability to break the line and off-load. I’m not sure if it’s a direct result of this, but Lealiifano also looks a little more settled and nowhere near as fractious as he did before T Smith became a fixture in the centres.
In fact, it seems as if the Brumbies have finally settled on what is their best backline and everyone can now get on with the job, it certainly looks better balanced on paper anyway.
The Brumbies have lost Chizz for the season with a broken wrist so Noodles Kimlin and Ben Hand have the job of locking the scrum. Neither of these blokes are mugs, and when you throw in a pretty sharp back-row unit, the Brumbies will fancy their chances of causing problems for the Stormers cumbersome pack.
What must be concerning Andy Friend is not only the emotional energy that the players would have used up during the last few weeks, but also what affect travel fatigue may have on the players. When the draw was released, the Stormers would no doubt have targeted this game as one they could win given the travel factor, so they will try and put it to Brumbies early on to test out how resolute the Ponies are.
If the home team can weather the early onslaught, you would expect the Stormers to simply blow themselves out and offer nothing as they have done in previous weeks.
The Brumbies need to win all of their remaining games with a decent smattering of bonus points to have a chance of making the finals. While this is not a realistic goal, let’s hope they don’t drop this game and the Brumbies have a big win to help everyone at the ground, and Australian rugby supporters in general, celebrate the life of Shawn Mackay.
Cote says – Brumbies by 10