Another bad night for the Brumbies - Green and Gold Rugby
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Another bad night for the Brumbies

Another bad night for the Brumbies

In beautiful Invercargill rugby weather the Brumbies and Highlanders faced off both looking to get their seasons back on track. The Brumbies made a late change, with Blake Enever being replaced by Lausii Taliauli on the bench. It wasn’t a good start to the night for the Brumbies when their bus broke down on the way to the match and the team had to arrive in taxi’s.

The night didn’t get much better for the Brumbies.

First Half

With both teams coming off losses it was the Brumbies who made a positive start to the match. They showed their attacking intent early with the majority of the possession in the first 10 minutes but after wave after wave they were forced back, losing territory with the strong defence of the Highlanders forcing an error and the Brumbies coming away empty handed.

At the 10 minute mark Jack Wilson was yellow carded for a high tackle on Robbie Coleman. Toomua kicked for touch and the Brumbies received a penalty from the resulting lineout. Again Toomua kicked for the line, putting it into touch five metres out. Sam Carter was penalised during the lineout for obstruction, allowing the Highlanders to send the ball down field.

The first score of the match came at 13 minutes, when Liam Squire gave away a penalty for no arms in the tackle. Christian Lealiifano slotted the shot, 3-0 Brumbies.
The Brumbies kept on with their attack, drawing penalties from the Highlanders and kicking to touch and setting up for attacking lines out. Again Sam Carter was penalised as they formed the maul for obstruction.

At the 20 minute mark another attacking chance went begging when Sam Carter was again called for obstruction at the lineout. This was the third time Carter had been penalised for the same offence.

Patrick Osborne came close to scoring after easily breaking through the Brumbies defence. It was only a last ditch effort from Tomas Cubelli to stop the try, putting Osborne into touch.
Soon after, Osborne again came close to the try line, after Aidan Toua stepped the wrong way in defence giving Osborne a clear run towards the line, but again the Highlanders were let down by handling errors and turned the ball over.

In the 37th minute Lima Sopoaga scored the opening try of the match after easily sliding between Nigel Ah Wong and Tom Staniforth. He converted his own try to make the half time score 7-3.

Second half

Five minutes into the half a good set piece from a 5m scrum by the Highlanders led to Ben Smith going over the try line after Malakai Fekitoa broke through the Brumbies defence. Sopoaga converted the try, taking the score to 14-3.

Five minutes later the Brumbies hit back with Josh Mann Rae scoring off the back of a rolling maul from an attacking line out. Lealiifano converted cutting the lead back to 4, with the score at 14-10.

Penalties and errors began creeping into the Brumbies game, giving the Highlanders a slight advantage. James Dargaville was called for obstruction while chasing a defensive kick, resulting in Sopoaga successfully taking the penalty with the score moving to 17-10.

The Brumbies turned down a number of attempts at goal, preferring to go to the sideline and try their luck with the maul. But the defence of the Highlanders was immense, holding out repeated attacks from the Brumbies forwards. Ultimately it was errors from the backs which led to the ball being turned over, the Brumbies again being unable to convert their pressure in attack into points.

The Brumbies started making defensive errors resulting in successful penalty shots to Sopoaga in the 68th and 72nd minutes taking the score out to 23-10, which is how the score would stay.

It was a disappointing display from the Brumbies. Despite having the majority of possession and most other stats, they were unable to convert attack into points. Continually let down with poor passes and handling they gave the ball back to the Highlanders far too easily.

The Highlanders defence was very strong, holding out the Brumbies close to the line on a number of occasions. They were the better team on the night, outplaying the Brumbies with better execution.

The Game Changer

The try to Ben Smith not long after half time was the beginning of the end for the Brumbies. After putting so much pressure on the Highlanders defence, only to walk away empty handed and then have a try scored quickly and relatively easily against them, it put the Brumbies on the back foot.


In a pretty even team effort Ben Smith gets the nod. He played a part in most of the Highlanders scores and was solid in defence. Honourable mention goes to Tom Staniforth from the Brumbies who threw himself into everything in both attack and defence. 

Wallaby Watch

Tom Staniforth made a good impression, carrying the ball into the defence with aggression and looks to be one to watch out for, outplaying locking partner Sam Carter. While David Pocock appeared to have a quiet match he made a number of runs and was solid in defence..

The Details

Score & Scorers

Highlanders: 23

Tries: L. Sopoaga (39′) Ben Smith(45′)

Conversions: L. Sopoaga 2/2

Penalties: L Sopoaga 3/4

Brumbies: 10

Tries: J Mann Rae (50’)

Conversions: C. Lealiifano 1/1

Penalties: C. Lealiifano 1/1


Yellow Card – Jack Wilson (Highlanders)

  • brumby runner

    Good summary MST. In their present form, the Brumbies will continue to slide down the ladder. Their ability to break a defense is almost non-existent. No-one is playing exceptionally well, and many are not even so-so. Don’t expect to see any backs make it to the June tests in their present form. Tevita’s hands have let him down again and again lately; Toomua and Lealiifano offer no threat in attack; the wingers and fullback are probably just not up to Super standard.

    Poey had no impact at all that I saw. Many runs to make zero metres, and I can’t say I saw any turnovers either.

    Be it the off-field troubles or just plain poor coaching, I don’t expect to see them in the finals this year.

    • Chinese Dave

      I don’t disagree with anything above, just wanted to add that SMH is reporting they were told 10 minutes before the game that the CEO has resigned and would be replaced. I think that would have affected my performance.

      • James Kerr

        Read the story again mate. It was 10 minutes after the game.

        Once again, with all that possession the Brumbies only manage to score 1 try – the ever predictable driving maul from a lineout. Their Redzone attack consists of wave after wave of one off the ruck running by big, unskilled forwards. Their ability to create space in the tackle through a well executed offload is non-existent, as is the ability of Lealiifano and Toomua to create effective running lines for Kuridrani. Major questions need to be asked of Kuridrani who is way down on skills, involvemen & attacking threat and way up on lazy defence and bad attitude. Maybe a huge round of lucrative French offers are arriving soon in Canberra. This Brumbies team sure look like a bunch of guys with their minds elsewhere.

  • jay-c

    I don’t know what people see in carter- doesn’t dominate a line out, doesn’t dominate anything.
    Just seems like a lanky goof.
    And not a particularly intelligent one at that after giving away the same stupid penalty three times in try scoring positions.
    The fullback toua was just appalling. Should have been hooked before half time, it’s a real embarrassment to see that standard in the Australian teams.
    The brumbies do this every year (shooting out of the blocks before coming to a grinding halt) … except they don’t usually look this bad.
    sad to say, but they’re just not winners.

  • LoveThePoop

    Difficult to say this (because i can’t stand the highlanders) but gotta give credit to an excellent defensive performance by them in the first half… Brumbies, brumbies, brumbies, I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed (that goes for you too the Rebels)… This has been a very difficult year to watch Aussie teams against Kiwi teams and doesn’t look like getting better anytime soon… They are simply better across the board at the moment… hopefully this will change when we bring the wallabies together later this year… I found it very interesting that Chekia said on Rugby 360 this week that he is certain there are about 60-100 Aussie super rugby quality players playing overseas… Surely this is something the ARU are looking into and surely they can get together with NZ (they probably have 1000) and come up with some ideas of enticing these players back and keeping them here… surely

  • John Tynan

    It’s always “errors in the backs”….

  • Andy

    Cater is the next dean Mumm. Can’t catch, drops tackles, turns the ball over too much, gives away too many penalties. Shouldn’t be close to the wallabies.

    If only we didn’t lose so many players overseas. He wouldn’t get a look in. I hope he and Mumm are nowhere near the wallabies squad this year.

    • jamie

      Coleman, Arnold, Simmons, Jones and Fardy at lock for me this season.
      And another that plays lock, Timani, at 6 for me.
      Saw him jump in the line out the other day actually. He was fantastically quick in the air.

    • Pclifto

      I was going to say Carter is the Brumbies’ Rob Simmons for many of the same reasons…

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Some harsh comments here. I think the Brumbies miss Moore a lot as he seems to give the more go forward than anyone else. Highlanders defence has been massive all year and Brumbies aren’t the only ones to struggle to breach it. I thought Cubelli played well but there seemed to be a lack of cohesion in the backline and no real plan.

    Lot if work to do now for the Brumbies but I still think overall they are the best Australian team. Just had a run against some sides where everything clicked

    • Nutta


      The guys getting knocked:

      K’drani hands were un-characteristically poor but his lines were spot on. However the missed blitz tackle on their 13 was poor

      Carter was pinned for obstruction but it could/would of been anyone who played that role and doing what he did in a coached & pre-arranged movement. That was a coaches error. In terms of his value, consistently his stats are super high.

      Poey is obviously trying to build a running game and is picking up slack from the loss of Ita.

      However they let themselves down at critical moments and they simply weren’t good enough on the night.

      • Jay-c

        It’s not a coaches error three times.

        • Nutta

          I disagree there. Pretty much BECAUSE it happened 3 times makes it a coaching error for me as it’s a lineout. It’s pre-arranged, coached, agonised over and re-run probably 100 times before being used in game-time. He is doing pre-ordained things and the fact he got pinned 3 times for it goes back to whoever constructed the movement sequence. Plus also the silliness in re-calling the same penalised movement another 2 times! Bloody silly stuff.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Yeah that blitz tackle was bad. They are always a dodgy choice. Pull it off and you look like a legend, but stuff it up and it is usually costly.
        I think you’re right about Pocock and I’m not sure if that’s a good move. His strength has never been his running game and he should go back to what he’s good at, disrupting the play and winning the breakdown. The Brumbies missed that a lot

    • idiot savant

      Agree about Cubelli. He has a go forward take it up to em attacking attitude that doesn’t gel with the rest of the Brumbies. This has happened in previous games. No other player seems alive to the ‘quick’ possibility. Is that coaching or the players? Phipps, Foley and Beale are alive to quick possibilities for example. The Brumbies seem too old fashioned. Might be time for Cheik to consider a new backs coach.

      • The Ardent B’Stard

        I have to totally disagree re Cubelli
        When you have 70%+ possession and score 1 try then the first place to look for an issue is at 9 and 10

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I thought the 10 was getting good ball but it was from there on that it faltered. Cubelli was also massive in defence and seemed to be everywhere, that’s what I liked about his game.

        • Braveheart81

          I thought Cubelli was comfortably the Brumbies best back.

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