The Plus500 Brumbies produced a stellar comeback against the Reds last Saturday at GIO Stadium, turning a 15-point deficit on its head to claim a 45-21 bonus point win.
Here, we put the contest under the microscope to analyse the finer details which lead to the Brumbies big win.
The ComebackThe Brumbies performance in the first twenty minutes was poor.
Appearing flat and without confidence, the Reds seemed to ghost through the Brumbies defence without little effort required.
After Chris Feauai-Sautia crossed for the visitors to push their advantage to 15 points, things looked bleak for the Brumbies hopes.
Whether it was an inspirational speech, the Reds dropping their guard or something else, the Brumbies completely flipped a switch once that try went in.
With their backs up against the wall, facing another loss to conference rivals, the Brumbies got back in the game.
Using their most effective tool, the maul, the Brumbies pack roused the revival with Folau Fainga’a crossing for his maiden Brumbies try.
Fainga’a’s five pointer galvanized the team.
Running at the Reds defence with reckless abandonment, Isi Naisarani’s first try of the night followed five minutes later and the comeback as on.
Fainga’a was cruelly denied a second score on the stroke of half-time which would have completed the Brumbies resurgence inside the opening stanza.
It didn’t take long however for the go ahead try to come, Chance Peni busting over from the left flank in the 46th minute.
The final-score will never tell the full story of this game.
The Brumbies were buried after 20 minutes, making the 60 that followed that bit more impressive.
A standout performance by the Brumbies tighthead on the night he earned his 50th cap for the club, Alaalatoa was typically excellent against the Reds last Saturday. A lot was made about the scrum battle coming into the game. The Reds were dominant at set-piece when the teams first met in Round Three, a fact that would not have been lost on the Brumbies or their scrum general Alaalatoa. They responded to the challenge and the Brumbies got the better of all but one of the scrums on the night. Around the park, Alaalatoa got through his work.
He brings a subtle variance to his ball-carrying which seperates him from many props. Using footwork and threatening to the tip the ball on, he rarely doesn’t make ground as opposition defences stand off his considerable frame. Alaalatoa has developed into a world class tighthead. In his 50 caps, Alaalatoa has cemented himself as one of the best to ever wear the Brumbies wear number 3 on his back for the Brumbies.
What more is there to say about David Pocock? If you wish to read our breakdown of his comeback against the Waratahs where we wax lyrical on his stature you may by clicking here, but we will just be examining his stats against the Reds to illustrate the superstar flanker’s brilliance for this piece. 16 tackles with one miss, three turnovers won with just one penalty conceded and a try in the 75th minute to boot. Incredible statline that seems almost par for the course for Pocock. A master at the breakdown, a pivotal link player in attack and a true leader on the field.
Underrated seems to define James Dargaville. His game generally is not flashy or eye-catching. He’s more known for relentlessly chasing kicks than throwing crisp cat-flap offloads, though he has the skill to do it. Old school rugby words slip the tongue when explaining his game. Dogged, determined, courageous, tough, these are things that label him, but he is that and more. Against the Reds, Dargaville made just one metre in attack, yet was one of the outstanding players on the park. His defensive work was excellent, making each of his five tackles count with freakish ferocity. Unlike Pocock, Dargaville’s value will rarely show up in his stats. It’s his accountability that makes him a special player. Allow me some room to delve into cliché. Dargaville is a guy you want with you in a foxhole, someone you can trust to do difficult tasks for the benefit of the team. You need players like James Dargaville to win close games, and his contribution to the brumbies win over the Reds should not go unsaid.
The Plus500 Brumbies travel to Dunedin this week to take on the Highlanders looking to rocket back up the Australian conference standings.
The game will be live on Fox Sports at 5.45pm AEST.
Don’t forget, tickets are on sale now for the Brumbies next home game against the Jaguares April 22.