How the Brumbies 'choked'

Sun, 15 Jul 2012 12:05
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The Brumbies were left pondering how their runaway Super Rugby train derailed in the last regular season stop at the weekend.

The Brumbies were left pondering how their runaway Super Rugby train derailed in the last regular season stop at the weekend.

A dynamic Blues outfit ran the Canberra outfit ragged at the weekend, claiming a 30-16 point win in driving-afternoon rain at the Canberra Stadium.

A win or losing-bonus point would have guaranteed the Brumbies top spot in the Australian Conference and a crack at the finals, but in a spectacular display of choking they fell well short.

Then the Reds compounded their nightmare finish to the season by scoring a bonus-point win over the Waratahs to sneak past the Brumbies on 'matches won' and claim the Aussie conference - which meant a spot guaranteed spot in the play-offs, the only Australian team to qualify even though they would have finished sixth overall on the global standings.

The Brumbies coaching staff struggled to hide their disappointment at the team's failure to maintain their early season form, which saw them race clear and hold a nine-point lead (on the standings) over the reds in the Aussie conference.

The weekend's encounter with the lowly Reds was supposed to be one of celebration - , with veteran hooker Stephen Moore clocking up his 100th game.

However, the Brumbies missed 34 first-time tackles, allowing the Blues to unfold the game on their terms and attack from all over the park.

Coach Jake White was naturally disappointed with the result.

"We went away from the plan as they kicked off," a bitterly disappointed White said in his post-match reaction.

"We gave them 14 points in 11 minutes.

"Everything we spoke about regarding us starting well and keeping them out of the game went out the window," White added.

"We didn't build pressure, we didn't keep the tempo up and it was evident we let ourselves down in that first 20 minutes.

"All credit to the Blues. They got on a role bashing us in tackles and at the breakdown. It's not an ideal situation, now we've got to look and see what happens in the rest of the games this weekend."

Despite the bitter disappointment of the loss, White felt the Brumbies will learn from the failure to push on.

"They will regroup, that's why I'm the coach, that's why I've been put here - it's my job and that's when coaching and experiences come in," White told the media.

"When you ask will they recover, of course they will.

"Unfortunately in sport some of the best champions are the ones who have these disappointments, I'm almost sure every champion has gone through this at some stage and we will be back.

"We were so close, that's what hurts most and the fact we were winning our conference for almost five months."

Assistant coach Laurie Fisher joined White in expressing his disappointment.

"The disappointment will linger for a long time," said Fisher, who was also an assistant coach the last time the Canberra-based franchise tasted success - when they won the Super 12 crown in 2004.

"We got what we deserved in the end," he told AAP.

"It was 100 per cent in our hands and we weren't able to do the job and you can't rely on anyone else."

Fisher rued a tentative start and suspected the pressure of taking the reward on offer played its part.

But he denied it should tarnish their amazing turnaround.

"We're an inexperienced crew and there was a level of inexperience there," he said.

"We're very dejected with our performance but reflecting on where we've come from there's a satisfaction of the ground we've made up.

"There's many more goods than bads and it's important at this time not to reflect on the bads because that can tear you apart."

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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26