Brumbies willing to pay the 'penalty'

Wed, 24 Jul 2013 12:40
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Brumbies coach Jake White admitted his team runs a big risk if they continue to push the envelope at the breakdown.

Brumbies coach Jake White admitted his team runs a big risk if they continue to push the envelope at the breakdown, but insist they won't change their game plan.

Speaking ahead of their Super Rugby semifinal encounter with the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, White admitted record-breaking Springbok Morné Steyn's deadly-accurate boot will be a huge factor.

The Brumbies are the most penalised side in the competition this season, with a substantial number the result of their zealous 'contesting' at the breakdown.

Last time the Brumbies played at Loftus Versfeld - in April last year - they lost 34-36 despite outscoring the Bulls five tries to two. Steyn booted 23 points - including seven penalties - leaving the Brumbies under no illusion as to how important infringements will be in this upcoming fixture.

That day the Brumbies conceded 11 penalties, which fractionally higher than their match average for 2013.

The Brumbies have conceded 172 penalties in 16 matches in the league season, at an average of 10.75 per match. That is in contrast to the Bulls' 152 penalties, at 9.5 per game over the same period.

It is not surprising that the Brumbies have the second most yellow cards, six, for infringements this season.

While veteran loose forward George Smith (sixth, with seven pilfers) and Colby Faingaa (16th, with four) both rank in the top 20 for most steals this season, two Brumbies also rank very high in the most penalised category - captain Ben Mowen (sixth, 22 penalties) and prop Ben Alexander (12th, 18) the main culprits.

"In the stats you can see we've got the most pilfers, the most turnovers and best ability to slow down the opposition ball," White told the Australian Associated Press.

"So with that comes the chance of giving a penalty away.

"One goes in hand with the other and I'm prepared to take the risk of conceding a penalty or two, knowing full well that you get a lot of return on what we do at the breakdown."

White knows all too well that at an altitude of about 1,350 metres Steyn can calmly slot penalty goals from 55-metres out at Loftus.

The 29-year-old flyhalf certainly punished the Brumbies in their last visit to Pretoria.

Having regained his kicking form this year, Steyn is again a huge threat.

Steyn has knocked over more penalty goals (51) this season than any other player in the history of Super Rugby, boasting an accuracy rate of 85.6 per cent when taking shots at goal.

"Morné is one of the best kickers in world rugby, especially at Loftus. He obviously kicks a lot better at his home ground," White told AAP.

"There's nothing you can do about the ball going 10 metres further [at Loftus].

"We've just got to make sure we don't concede penalties but at the same time be as aggressive as we can at the breakdown."

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Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 7 5 1 1 24
Rebels 6 4 0 2 20
Brumbies 7 3 0 4 14
Reds 7 3 0 4 13
Sunwolves 7 0 0 7 2
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 7 6 0 1 27
Crusaders 7 5 0 2 24
Chiefs 7 5 0 2 21
Highlanders 6 4 0 2 19
Blues 7 2 0 5 12
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 5 0 3 25
Bulls 7 3 0 4 14
Sharks 8 2 1 5 14
Stormers 8 3 0 5 13
Jaguares 6 2 0 4 8