The Brumbies made a statement in their round 18 clash with the Reds.
What are we talking about after that 40-27 win?
1. Brumbies show why they’re through to playoffs
The Brumbies will be the only Australian team in the Super Rugby finals this season and against the Reds they showed how they got to this point.
Despite the fact the result of this match was in many ways meaningless for the Brumbies they were clearly desperate to take as much momentum as possible into a knockout finals campaign.
The Reds fought back towards the end of the game but once the Brumbies began to get a roll on they never really looked like losing.
Queensland started well and the Brumbies were able to adapt to what the Reds threw at them and after some errant passes and basic errors early, they were able to adjust their game on the run and get some ascendancy.
They went back to their pack to build their momentum and used their set piece to generate some attack.
Coach Dan McKellar rang the changes at the 50-minute mark and that only served to vindicate his whole squad mentality, with all of his bench players bringing quality to the game.
It’s something they’ve been able to do well all season and it will be a valuable skill when they come to knockout rugby.
That victory equalled the longest-winning streak in the club’s history, handing them some critical momentum heading into finals.
The Brumbies have also won seven matches at GIO Stadium, not a bad stat as they prepare to host a quarter-final next weekend.
2. Brumbies’ Wallabies contenders putting hands up
Michael Cheika was watching on in Canberra and there’d be a few Brumbies who are surely giving the Wallabies coach food for thought.
The forward pack is well and truly ahead of its Aussie counterparts as a whole and back at fullback, Tom Banks had another sensational game.
Banks was impressive in attack with 155 run metres against the Reds, doing what some of his rivals were unable to do this weekend.
Where some Rebels and Waratahs’ Wallabies may have played themselves out of starting spots in recent weeks, the Brumbies have done the opposite.
And they have a handy advantage over their rivals in that they have at least one extra game to push their cause.
3. Reds take strides but next steps still to come
2020 is looming as the make or break season for the Reds after another season littered with glimpses of hope but also plenty of disappointments.
A lot has been made of the age of the Reds outfit, even despite an early season bad on the label “young” but their age profile isn’t likely to mature much next season.
Samu Kerevi, Scott Higginbotham, Duncan Paia’aua, Sefa Naivalua and Caleb Timu are among the players leaving the Reds after Saturday night’s game and those are also some of their more experienced players.
The bright spot is in players like Liam Wright, who was sensational again in Canberra, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Salakaia Loto and Taniela Tupou.
Their next challenge is to ensure they’re not back to square one when Super Rugby kicks off next February because it’s all too easy to be stuck in a cycle of mediocrity.
Another season that yields just six wins will not be an acceptable outcome for this team and much of that will be on the shoulders of those players come next season.
4. Wright stuff from Tom
Tom Wright was a slow burner at the start of the year but he had close to his best game of the year, playing on the wing tonight.
Scored a superb runaway intercept try, that demonstrated why he has been talked about as a potential Sevens prospect.
Wright has generally plays in the centres but the competition in spots and the form of Irae Simone forced some change.
You’d expect Toni Pulu to slot straight back into the starters next week but Wright is a handy asset to have coming off the bench too.
Easy to forget this is only Wright’s first season back in rugby after a stint in the NRL – there is plenty more to come from him.
5. Winning the best lure
It was a freezing night in Canberra and the fog was really setting in but it seems success is the best way to bring fans out of the woodwork.
The Brumbies have battled for crowds this season but amid one of their most successful runs in history, they drew a healthy crowd at GIO Stadium.
Coach Dan McKellar and his players have been vocal about trying to encourage more fans to get to the ground each week and it appears to be working.
A home quarter-final in the middle of winter is no easy sell but this Brumbies team is becoming a hot ticket.
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