Brumbies vs Reds – Super Rugby – 31 January 2020

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At the start of the season, the hopes and dreams of Australian rugby surely lie with the Brumbies… again. Will any other step up and be a contender for the year or are we just in for another season of underwhelming Australian Super Rugby? After this scrap, the answer is still “Yes”. Here’s to hoping that won’t be the case the whole season.

The Brumbies started like a house on fire with some intensity and crisp passing. It wasn’t without flaws, but the intent was definitely there. As for the Reds there wasn’t too much to get excited about at the start until Henry Speight went over for the first try.

After that, the contest started coming alive and it wasn’t just the Brumbies show anymore.

There was nothing in the scrums with dominance swinging from one team to another frequently. The most worrying thing for these teams would be that they didn’t have stable scrums at all. When they face up to the well organized set phases of the New Zealand and South African teams, they will be in a world of hurt.

A change in mindset is however needed desperately for the Australian teams. They have enough in terms of good athletes that display decent skills. They lack creativity and conviction in their game. It is more a case of hoping that a play will come off than the 100% belief that it would.

The Reds deserved their hard-fought 17-7 advantage going into the shed at half-time.

Both teams throughout the game were guilty of not respecting their possession at times. I completely lost count of all the turnovers there would be between stoppages. It must have been one of the highest volumes of turnover in a Super Rugby game EVER!

The Reds showed that if they go through phases that they have enough to get over the line. For both teams, the turnovers were killing them and it became clear very quickly that the result might be a toss-up in the end rather than the result of one team dominating.

But that error count to go with the turnovers doesn’t belong in Super Rugby. The most basic mistakes were being made repeatedly and neither team was able to adapt and recover from it.


Never underestimate the difference a good #9 can make. You want endless energy in distribution and accurate box kicking. If you add the organized violence of a loosehead like Scott Sio, things will get interesting. It was however short-lived…

Throughout the contest, the Brumbies backline looked like the more threatening force. The ex-Brumbies talisman, Speight, was on the left-wing for the Reds, but they didn’t miss him… until he sliced open their defense around the 17th minute.


It took them just over 15 minutes to wake up. Up to that point they were defending non-stop and it looked like a Brumbies blowout was on the cards. Then Henry Speight showed his genius. Only when you watch the replay can you see how well he sums up the defense, picks his spot and gets over the line.

As the first half progressed they started getting in the game more and more through pressure from their forwards mainly. Their backline however still lacked any real firepower.

Credit should be given to them for taking the points on offer and being sensible in their approach. It wasn’t spectacular n the first half, but they steadily increased their work rate and accuracy as the game wore on.

Their try just before half-time was incredibly well worked. It went through 16 phases for a mere 21 meter gain before Bryce Hegarty ran into acres of space. All credit to the forwards for sucking in the Brumbies defenders.

Liam Wright put in a huge shift on the openside and was a force over the ball at ruck time.

Outstanding players

Brumbies: Scott Sio (1), Joe Powell (9), Tom Banks (15)

Reds: Taniela Tupou (3), Liam Wright (7), Henry Speight (11), Bryce Hegarty (15)

ThysRugby man of the match: The turnovers… followed by Joe Powell

Plays of the game

  • Henry Speights timing and vision in identifying the gap on an inside shoulder and going over for the first Reds try under the polls… with not a hand on him
  • The Reds team try just before half-time. Going through 16 phases for 21 meters to get over the line takes patience and concentration.

Final verdict

Brumbies: Started with great promise, but faded in the last 20 minutes of the first half. They had the opportunity to turn the screw on the Reds, but missed out.

If they want to claim anything except the not-so-spectacular “best in Australia” crown, they would need to play rugby for more than 30% of the game.

Reds: They looked completely out of sorts at the start of the first half, but looks can be deceiving. It is the first game of Super Rugby for the year and clearly they just needed to get into the swing of things. Definitely the better team during the first half.

They were not expected by many to put up any resistance but were a surprise package throughout. They will be pushing the Brumbies hard the whole season probably.