ACT Brumbies




A long pre-season then twenty one weeks of playing and training. In just 80 minutes it will be all over for one team and a finals’ chance for glory for the other. No next week redemption, its all on the line.



The Form

The Waratahs: They are the runaway comp leader, with impressive form, leaving everyone in their wake. Seven points in front after 19 rounds and playing a devastating power running game that looks different to every other team. They rule most of the stats, highest average points per game, lowest points conceded per game; only the set piece stats are poor.

The Brumbies: After a form slump in South Africa and a big loss to the Waratahs they have bounced back to their best in the last two weeks. They blew the Force away and then beat last year’s champs in the qualifying final last week. They did so by scoring tries from distance, with their stars having stellar games.

The gameplans:

The Waratahs are playing a pure Randwick gameplan. Keep the ball in hand most times, run at the defence hard and in numbers, dominate possession rather than field position and look first to score tries. Its a gameplan that is used by virtually no other team and is high risk/high reward. The forward pods are set wider than normal and forward offloads change the point of attack continuously. The backs are set shallow and run multiple lines to confuse the opposition. When done at pace it is very difficult to defend, but mistakes can easily cruel the result. In defense they look to make dominant tackles and the next man into the tackle area often tries to drive over the ball rather than seek to achieve a pilfer.

The Brumbies are a team in transition. Last season’s Jakeball is being replaced by a Brumbies style reminiscent of the Brumbies of the early 2000’s. They will kick more frequently for field position when they are under pressure, but will run from anywhere outside their 22 if they can see space available. Their field kickers in Mogg, Toomua and White are clearly superior in that area. More than most teams, the Brumbies look to slow the breakdown, both legally and illegally. They are a team that operates more on the counter-punch, putting on pressure and waiting to seize on any opponent’s mistake.

The set piece is where the Brumbies expect to have a clear, maybe match-winning advantage. Their lineout is clearly superior and their scrum might be too, though that is less obvious. But performance on the day can often negate such certainties; we’ll know by 9:30 Saturday night how these two contests within the contest turn out.



The Teams

The Brumbies have lost Moore and Pocock from their best 15, the Waratahs have lost Dennis and Betham. Otherwise both teams are at close to full strength, missing only a few second-stringers. On paper the Brumbies have problems at hooker with Moore and Siliva out, but Mann-Rea has stepped up well. Hoiles has stepped in seamlessly for Dennis and he is back to his pre-injury Wallaby form. Advantage to the Waratahs, but both teams have good replacement depth.

The weather forecast for Saturday is clearing showers and a maximum of 20 degrees, so it should be dry by nightfall and conditions will be great for the game. Neither team really wants rain, though you would suspect it would have more impact on the Waratahs than the Brumbies. We can but hope that the referee, Jaco Peyper, stamps down early on cynical offending and allows the attacking team the chance to display their skills. Let the game flow for the enjoyment of all.

The Most Feared Players On Each Team

In any team preparation there will be discussion on key players and special plans to negate them. Every player will have his own tasks but the game outcome will hinge on just how well a handful of players on each team play their role. For the forwards, the key match-ups will be Hooper and Palu vs Carter and Fardy; for the backs they will be Toomua and Speight vs Beale and Folau. Although Foley will be crucial at 10, how Beale handles Toomua shooting out of the defensive line at him and then how Beale handles Speight when Beale is defending on the wing may just seal the outcome.


In the first derby of the season the Brumbies strangled the Waratahs with their midfield defence. Can the Waratahs overcome that this time? Or will the Waratahs, with the competition’s best defensive stats, force the Brumbies back to playing Jakeball?

This game will be a classic confrontation between an all-out attacking team and a hard defending counter-attacking team. Will the Brumbies disrupt the Waratah attack? Will the Waratahs destroy the Brumbies defensive wall? Given the nature of the two teams and their skill levels, I expect a total game score of 50+ points; this will not be a 3-0 slogfest.

Waratahs by 8

Team Lists

Waratahs: 1. Benn Robinson, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3. Sekope Kepu, 4. Jacques Potgieter, 5. Kane Douglas, 6. Stephen Hoiles, 7. Michael Hooper (c), 8. Wycliff Palu 9. Nick Phipps, 10. Bernard Foley, 11. Rob Horne, 12. Kurtley Beale, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14. Alofa Alofa, 15. Israel Folau.

Reserves: 16. Tolu Latu, 17. Jeremy Tilse, 18. Paddy Ryan, 19. Will Skelton, 20. Mitchell Chapman, 21. Pat McCutcheon, 22. Brendan McKibbin, 23. Taqele Naiyaravoro,

Brumbies: 1. Scott Sio, 2. Josh Mann-Rea, 3. Ben Alexander, 4. Leon Power, 5. Sam Carter, 6. Scott Fardy, 7. Jarrad Butler, 8. Ben Mowen (c), 9. Nick White, 10. Matt Toomua, 11. Robbie Coleman, 12. Christian Lealiifano, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Henry Speight, 15. Jessie Mogg.

Reserves: 16. Ruaidhri Murphy, 17. Ruan Smith, 18. Allan Alaalatoa, 19. Fotu Auelua, 20. Tom McVerry, 21. Michael Dowsett, 22. Joe Tomane, 23. Pat McCabe

Match Details

Date and time: 1940 AEST, Saturday July 26, 2014

Venue: Allianz Stadium, Moore Park

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia) and Craig Joubert (South Africa)

Television Match Official: George Ayoub (Australia)



  • Bob


  • Funk

    I had to laugh at the comparison of the teams’ losses to injury…Moore and Pocock vs Dennis and Betham. I know who I would miss more.

    • Luke Amasi

      Waratahs have done well this season at keeping a lot of guys constantly on the park.. especially TPN and Palu, it has helped them a lot this season.

      • Lee Grant

        Was at Tahs training earlier today.

        Everybody, including Pete Betham, seems to be fit apart from Dave Dennis and Jonno Lance.

    • Patrick

      I thought the same!

    • Hawko

      As the article says, its advantage to the Waratahs when looking at who is out.

  • Patrick

    Can’t see Beale stopping Speight, Tahs are unlikely to let that match-up occur!

    • Tahs_Man_Fan

      From what I interpreted from the media and from Cheika’s comments, Beale might stick to the 12 channel all game, and leave Horne to tackle Speight on the wing. I think Beale can contain Toomua, especially with the Tahs attitude of wanting to work for each other. But I still think whilst he is in amazing attacking form, Beale is the only chink in the Tahs armour

    • Hawko

      You may be right, but there are two reasons as a coach that you would not keep Horne on the wing in defence. One is that you disrupt the game pattern that you have established all season and in the heat of a semi-final you want players to be able to fall back into the pattern.The other is that not having Beale in the back three when the Brumbies have the ball limits his ability to make big yards on kick return, which is one of his key skills.

      Every change to a team to react to the other team has its upsides and downsides. We shall see how Cheika calls it on Saturday.

      • Patrick

        No arguments.

  • Dally M

    Can’t see 50+ points on offer for this game. I don’t think the Brumbies will play as expansively as they did last week.
    I hope they do, because it will make for a cracker of a match, but doubt they will.

    • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

      I take it you mean the Brumbies won’t play as expansively as they did last week. And I agree. I think they would like to but Waratahs defence will limit them. Mind you, Brumbies have lit-up 2 weeks in a row now and got a payout, so they just might give it another shot.
      As you can probably tell I have no flipping idea. :(
      I just want the Waratahs to go out there & give it there best & smartest shot. This should be a fantastic game of footy. GO THE TAHS!!!!!!!!!

    • Pedro

      It’s a big advantage for the brumbies as the tahs won’t be certain what game plan they will be up against.

    • Patrick

      I disagree, I think the Brumbies will try a dual track strategy of oppressively tight defence, conservative/positional set piece play and all-out counter-attack. Something like last week in bigger and better.

      The idea will be to force errors and capitalise rather than so much to create, I think.

      Can still make for a cracking game.

  • Pedro

    There’s been some pretty heavy dew in Sydney lately and if it rains on Saturday I would expect it to be pretty greasy on Saturday night. Not terrible, just trickier handling than appearances will suggest.

    Also I think having only one true hooker will negate any set piece advantage the Brumbies have, regardless it will likely hinge on whether the Brums need to sub their front rowers early.

  • Waz_dog

    I really, really hope you guys get a sell out on Saturday. Sydney fans need to show not only the tahs but the rest of the country they exist.

    Would love nothing more than to see the NRL punters shaking in their boots that rugby is on the up in NSW!

    • Dally M

      Well there will certainly be more than the 14,000 that turned out last Saturday for the Brumbies in Canberra!

  • Lindommer

    No Mitch Chapman and only four forwards on the Tahs’ bench, is that right?

    • Braveheart81

      Chapman is in there as part of the originally named 10 man bench. I believe McCutcheon and Crawford will drop off leaving a bench of:
      Latu, Tilse, Ryan, Skelton, Chapman, McKibbin, Carraro, Naiyaravoro.

  • Happy Hooker

    Great write up Hawko – this is building as a monumental clash. I can see there being some feeling in the match, both on and off the field.

    As a long time Tahs fan, its been remarkable to see the flans leave in droves during the latter Waugh years. I think a big match like this will rejuvenate the place and rekindle the passion of the dormant fans (as John Eales calls them). I’d expect 30k plus for this match at the SFS and if the make the final, then look out… it would be a sell out crowd at the SFS

    • Lee Grant

      Agree – great write up.

      Thunderdome – only one teams leaves – love it.

  • GD

    Tickets booked – front row behind the posts – perfect spot for field and crowd action, can’t wait.

  • Parker

    Excellent analysis and report. Thanks.

  • Klaus

    If this game isn’t a sell out then its a real blight on NSW rugby and their supporters as well. The team has done everything in its power to ensure entertaining football and their ‘supporters’ should just do that and get to the game and cheer on their team. Qld Reds played some of their worst rugby buy any team in years however still managed 30,000 plus crowds. If Sydney is the home of rugby in Australia then prove it.

  • Mattchoo

    It’s the referee, Jaco Peyper, who worries me in regard to the outcome of the game. From a Waratah supporters perspective, we seem to suffer with his style of officiating. He can be very pedantic, focusing overly on technicalities which bring him into the game and keep flowing rugby out of the game. I was very disappointed to hear he was to be the referee for this one, just as I was to hear he’ll be the guy in the middle for Bledisloe 1.

ACT Brumbies

Grew up watching Catchpole and Hawthorne, then later the Ella brothers, on Channel Two on Saturday afternoon. Expert commentary by Cyril Towers. No better rugby education ever to be had.

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