Brumbies outsmart Sharks

2013-03-17 10:00

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Durban outfit were outclassed, outrun and outplayed at home.

Say what you want about Jake White and his pack of Brumbies, but they are a seriously good team that deserves more respect.

In short, they definned what is an excellent Sharks team on paper and the ease with which they did so will have the Stormers very worried ahead of their Cape Town clash next week.

In truth, John Plumtree’s men were absolutely atrocious as they became the first South African team to concede a first half-bonus point this year.

That used to be the domain of the Lions and something that was expected from the Southern Kings.

Only a South African team can go 40 minutes without scoring a try, but their strengths were ruthlessly exploited.

They did score, but it is a swallow that will not make a summer.

They shrivelled in the scrum, fell off first-time tackles and were generally clueless in attack and defence.

As classy as he may be billed, Frans Steyn is proving to be a hindrance in unlocking a gifted back line.

He was the preferred target for the Brumbies’ strike runners and was easily dealt with when he tried his crash balls.

Reality needs to be faced in that he is not the best inside centre the Sharks have.

Under the successive coaching spells of Rod MacQueen, Eddie Jones and Dave Nucifora, the Brumbies were feared for their quick recycling and offloading game and for much of the first half, it was a throwback to that golden era.

It neutered the need for breakdowns and all their tries were created from the nucleus of fluid ball.

What was striking was the skill of the forwards in the tackle.

They chose the basic skill of getting through the tackle offloading when on the ground.

It was done with such regularity that it looked blindingly brilliant and exhilarating.

All but one of the first-half tries were studded by offloads and Matt Toomua’s try had 14 offloads.

There are international teams that cannot even string together less than half in 80 minutes.

Jesse Mogg, Joe Tomane and Henry Speight’s tries were all dotted in the corner. Only simple but effective rugby can achieve that.

As dominant as the Brumbies forwards were, at the heart of it all was Number 8 Fotu Auelua.

At 115kg, you’d expect him to be a battering ram. It was far from that as two of the four tries were a result of his deft running lines and not his bulk.

Both times he drew four defenders and, factor in his work in the rucks and mauls, he effectively shut down the Sharks single-handedly.

It was difficult to single out the standout from the impressive Brumbies backs, but Christian Lealiifano’s creativity and Mogg’s constant marauding gave the Sharks a never-ending headache.

A Sharks second-half fightback was expected and they broke their drought through Ryan Kankowski.

They returned to their unimaginative, turgid selves as the Brumbies showed the defensive resolve that has seen them concede only one second-half try.

The one area they were rather ragged in was the breakdown, but with no go forward ball for the Sharks, they went unpunished.

Whether an Australian nightmare will continue for the Sharks will be seen next week when they host the Rebels.

In the meantime, they should queue up for the University of Canberra scholarship the Brumbies are offering. They are in need of it.

Scorers:

Sharks:

Try: Ryan Kankowski

Conversion: Pat Lambie

Penalty: Lambie

Brumbies:

Tries: Jesse Mogg, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Henry Speight

Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (3)

Penalty: Lealiifano

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