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Brumbies 2018

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Rocky Elsom (76)
Staff member
Season remains alive but why do we live in a world where more than half of the Chiefs' point came from us giving away possession as they were defending their line? Simple errors that should have been dealt with by coaching.

Our forwards are some of the best in the world.

Genuinely, which forwards are some of the best in the world? Pocock, yup. Who else?


Jim Lenehan (48)
I'll say "some of the best in the world" means "would improve any team they went to", i.e. would be a regular in the matchday 23. We'll exclude the Darkness (nobody compares Banjo to Homer), and I'll say that Sio, Ala'alatoa, Rory, Pocock, and Naisarani all do that. On top of that, the work rate and reliability of guys like Mayhew, Carter, Enever, Cusack, and McCaffrey give me total faith in our ability to weather injuries.


Simon Poidevin (60)
McCaffrey probably been the biggest surprise for me this season, totally outplayed the way I thought of him at the start, he did slow down a little after coming back from injury but a fine season from someone who at best I thought was average.

Brumby Runner

David Wilson (68)
Allan Ala'alatoa again showed his class yesterday. Just back from injury and put in a non-stop effort for something like 65 - 70 minutes. I still maintain he and Tupou are the way forward to the RWC at THP. Kepu is and has been great but the younger ones are probably now a little superior.


Jim Lenehan (48)
So that's the season.

Bad News: Offensively, we still struggle, with only the Reds, Blues, and Stormers scoring fewer points than we did. Likewise, we have beaten the least defenders of any team this season, and the third worst clean breaks (better than Reds and Sunwolves). However, six teams scored fewer tries than we did (Reds, Sunwolves, Blues, Sharks, Stormers, Bulls), and we made the fifth most offloads in the competition, and the fourth most carries; so, while there is clearly room for improvement, we are better at attacking than we were last year. In terms of discipline, we've really struggled. I know that most fans have problems with the application of the laws at the moment, but we've still conceded the fourth most cards this season, and conceded a quarter of our tries while down a man. By comparison, of the nine yellow cards our opponents received this year, we failed to score during six of those periods, most notably against the Hurricanes, Jaguares, and the Crusaders.

Good News: Defensively, we still have some of our quality. Only the Crusaders, Hurricanes, Chiefs, and Jaguares conceded fewer points than we did. Similarly, only the Crusaders, Hurricanes, and Chiefs conceded fewer tries.We also achieved something that have been a while coming: our win against the Sharks was the first time since 2014 that we have won a game without scoring more tries than our opponent (two tries each). The last time we did that was to win the QF against the Chiefs in 2014 (four tries each); when tries are hard to come by, you need to be able to win in different ways, and we showed more signs of that this season than in the last three under Larkham. In 2013, we did this four times, twice with fewer tries than our opposition; this is a key stat to sides who do well in playoff rugby, and one well worth cultivating for when the tries simply aren’t coming. Similarly, we scored a try in every game this season, a far call from the record tryless period of 2017, and were only held to single digits by the table-topping Crusaders.

Coaching Review: McKellar hasn’t necessarily earnt a second season, but I’m also willing to put aside my calls for his replacement for now. Our play since the Lions away has been high quality, and we would have probably topped the conference if we had played this well from the start of the season. The improvements in our backline suggest that either Hewat has fixed his training, or the players have bought into it. Likewise, our improved defence speaks to the work of Peter Ryan. Our forwards have generally been excellent and that generally falls to Fisher and Palmer, so credit to them as well. I wish Damien Hill had been able to retain Nic Mayhew and James Dargaville, but I also believe he has done a spectacular job building our backrow after we lost Smiler, Alcock, Butler, and Fardy last year, so I believe he knows what he is doing. Overall, the coaching and management structure has earned a C+, and I expect them to improve on it next year.

Best Game: Waratahs away. I always love putting the Tahs to the sword, and we did that to them at their home, and have taken a home semi-final away from them. I loved everything about the game. I love that we scored first from a rubbish Rona pass being intercepted by Banks. I love that we had a dubious yellow card, held out for nearly the entire 10 minutes, and then immediately scored. I love that we made the team that outperformed us in every other respect this season look more like a mediocre BaaBaas side than Aus conference winners. If that was how we farewell guys like Mayhew, Godwin, and (hopefully not) Lealiifano, then it was a good farewell.
Honourable mentions to Bulls away, and Hurricanes at home.

Worst Game: Rebels home. We lead 24-10. This game is literally the difference between us making the finals and not. Our only points in the second half came from a single penalty goal. This game was atrocious and ultimately showed why the Hawera-Lealiifano 10-12 axis does not work. The one comfort in this game was that our forwards were dominant, which you can say for most games this season.
Dishonourable mentions to Reds away, Jaguares at home, and Rebels away.

Best Player and Best Forward: David Pocock. Last year, I wrote about how Chris Alcock made me forget that we didn’t have David Pocock in the side. I was infuriated when we didn’t do more to try and keep Alcock, and hesitant to believe that Pocock would slot straight back in. After waiting six rounds for him to play, I wondered if it was worth the sabbatical. And then he showed up and made three key pilfers against the Tahs, and forced three other penalties. And then we saw him develop his running game, averaging more than 5m per run in each of his 70-odd hit ups; sure, those aren’t Mafi or Hooper numbers, but he outdid good running backrowers like Taufua, Whiteley, Higgenbotham, and Messam. But stats can’t reflect what he does. Stats don’t measure how it takes three Hurricanes players, two of them neck-rolling him, to get him out of a breakdown, or that he can be hit for three players at once and still be the first man to the next breakdown, or his ability to tackle, stand up, crouch again, and take the ball before a single opposition player can get there in support. He’s not just a force of nature, he’s OUR force of nature.
Honourable mentions to Nic Mayhew, Blake Enever, and Lachlan McCaffrey.

Best Back: Tom Banks. Tom Banks was an Honourable Mention last year. This year, he has been outstanding. Statistically, the comparisons to Folau are actually harsh, as he has outperformed him in run metres, try assists, try-saving tackles, tackles busted, linebreaks, and tackles. Folau has only outperformed Banks in offloads. Statistically, that is incredible. However, like Pocock, the stats merely complement his real impact: Tom Banks is an excitement machine! When he catches the ball, you half expect him to beat the first man and go 50m; when cuts inside, three defenders follow him, and he has the pass to put his outside support in that space; when he’s defending in a 1-on-1 try-scoring opportunity, you expect him to make the tackle. He’s everything you want in a fullback, and he’s quickly becoming the star of our backline.
Honourable mentions to Kyle Godwin and Andrew Muirhead.

Most Improved: Andrew Muirhead. As a Royals fan, I’ve really enjoyed the rise of Muirhead. Those who watch the JID Cup will know how he, Rolando, and Johnston have formed the core of a Royals backline who can pin you in your own half and keep you there. His kicking game, defensive positioning, tackling, and sheer pace got him an opportunity last year on our South Africa tour, and this year he’s gone from squad player to our first-choice winger. If Banks went down, I would have faith in Muirhead to slot into that fullback spot with ease. I am always hesitant to compare someone to Joe Roff, but the signs are there with Muirhead.
Honourable mention to Folau Fainga’a.

Try of the Season: Godwin at the Waratahs: The try that put the game out of reach. Godwin gets the ball behind the line, steps off his left between Hanigan and Phipps, dances around Beale, bursts off the right foot to put himself one-on-one with Folau, chips the ball over him, the ball bounces perfectly for him, and his pace is enough to get him over the line despite being tackled by two men five metres out. Brilliant bit of individual play and a beautiful farewell from the man who finally delivered on his potential.
Honourable mentions to Banks (vJaguares), Banks (@Bulls), Speight (vSunwolves), Muirhead (vHurricanes), Banks (@Chiefs), and Taliauli (@Waratahs).

Team of the Season:

1. Nic Mayhew
2. Folau Fainga’a
3. Allan Ala'alatoa
4. Rory Arnold
5. Blake Enever
6. Lachlan McCaffrey
7. David Pocock
8. Isi Naisarani
9. Joe Powell
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Andrew Muirhead
12. Kyle Godwin
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Tom Banks

Brumby Runner

David Wilson (68)
Great summary RC. As you say, had they made the finals the Brumbies 2018 would be the inform Aus side to perhaps go further. Good signs for next year so long as a couple of missing pieces in the squad jigsaw can be found.

I think on the personnel side, I would rate Folau Fainga'a as the most improved. From out of the squad to the Wallabies squad in the space of less than a year is very impressive, as has his play been consistently. I would also give honourable mention to Allan Ala'alatoa for his consistently excellent form all year long. I know that at one stage of the season he was leading all statistics Super Rugby wide for THPs, and I don't think he slacked off at the end to change that assessment.

I like the way the game plan is evolving and the absence of criticism by the coaches for errors when the players are attempting to play enterprising, attacking rugby. They will get better at it the more they play that way.


Jim Lenehan (48)
I think on the personnel side, I would rate Folau Fainga'a as the most improved ......... I would also give honourable mention to Allan Ala'alatoa .........

I definitely rate Fainga'a improvement from where he was when he came off the bench in Melbourne, but I also think that point was lower than where he was last season in the NRC. That said, I'm really proud of him for working out the weaknesses in his game (lineout throwing and hooking in the scrum), a lot of players in that kind of form slump get stuck there. Shows a lot of character to work through it.
I definitely think Ala'alatoa is one of the best props around, but I don't see that as much of an improvement on 2017. Again, damn proud to have him, he's put himself through a lot of pain just to make one or two extra tackles each game, but I don't count that as improvement.

Brumby Runner

David Wilson (68)
I really meant an honourable mention for Allan in the Best Forward paragraph rather than the Most Improved. FF (Folau Fainga'a) for certain a contender for Most Improved and could also rate a mention in the Bets Forward discussion.
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