Chiefs vs Brumbies – Super Rugby – 22 February 2020

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The top teams of both New Zealand and Australia up against each other. The table is set for some mouthwatering rugby!

The Brumbies were the most impressive out of the gate playing with speed and intent not seen from an Australian team in a long time.

The Chiefs were not bad, they were just prone to losing the ball a few times in those first few minutes.

Whether or not the Brumbies would go on to win this game, they once again showed how the New Zealand teams can be beaten. Going at them as hard as they come at you is key. This needs to be combined with a focused offensive defense. You have to concentrate for 80 minutes to stop them behind the advantage line. A good rush defense and dominating those contact areas.

The Brumbies were great value all the way through the first 15 minutes and their 2nd try was well deserved. It was more hard running, the speed at the break down and then the resulting Solomone Kata try in the corner.

One of the strangest stats to see within the first 20 minutes was that the Brumbies had made 8 offloads and the Chiefs 0… and that was no typo.

It was all Brumbies in the first half as they ran in their third try in the 37th minute.

The Chiefs got into a huddle behind the posts and the reaction from the Chiefs in the 2nd half would be telling of how well they would do at the business end of Super Rugby in 2020. It was down to Sam Cane to show why he should be the All Black’s incumbent captain and the genius of Warren Gatland as a coach. Something had to break and a shift was needed in mindset and approach from the Chiefs.

When the Chiefs eventually got onto the board with a try by Aaron Cruden, the Brumbies were already on 26 points. Was there a way back for the Chiefs? There is always a way back for the Chiefs. Because they are the Chiefs.

It was going to be exciting heading into the last 30 minutes as this was not your average Brumbies team they were up against!


The Chiefs were starved of possession in the first half, but didn’t make the most of the little possession they had. They tried to do things contrary to their nature by being more conservative in their approach. It was definitely strange for them to see exits from their own half in the form of long kicks downfield.

A regular Chiefs side would usually carry the ball through multiple phases to create mismatches for their lethal backline. This didn’t exist in the first half.

When the Chiefs finally found their stride it turned into an even more interesting contest. They attacking prowess shone through after going down by 26 points to pull it back to 14-26 in a 10 minute period of play.

The lack of composure and ability to deal with the pressure in the first 45 minutes was however a major cause for concern. There was some hard work ahead for Warren Gatland and his squad to correct that in the week that followed.


This is a Brumbies side that I have never seen before. Focused and working with sped and accuracy. Granted there were a few handling errors, but a lot of that came from a little stray hand or body from the Chiefs.

The Brumbies didn’t let up throughout the first half and it was more of the same just after half time. They have turned a new corner for Brumbies rugby and hopefully Australian rugby with their approach to the much-fancied Chiefs.

Over the years the Brumbies have been the top Australian team, but they earned that through far more conservative means. A new dimension was however shown in this game. For the sake of Australian rugby I hope we see this for 80 minutes for every game for the rest of this tournament.

Standout players

Chiefs: Pita-Gus Sowakula (8), Aaron Cruden (10), Damian McKenzie (15)

Brumbies: James Slipper (1), Connal McInerney (2), Pete Samu (8), Noah Lolesio (10), Tevita Kuridrani (13), Solomone Kata (14)

ThysRugby player of the game: James Slipper – this was not the same James Slipper that we knew in previous years. He embodied the Brumbies transformation. His scrumming was top class and his play with the ball was the most impressive. A lot of good plays running in support as well as being the extra distributor between 10 and 12

Best plays of the game

  • Slipper’s “pass” to the try scorer Banks for the Brumbies first try. This came after a number of good phases and some decisive running
  • The first half Brumbies. It wasn’t so much a play as a sequence of positive relentless waves of attacking… complimented by attacking defense. Beautiful to watch
  • Multiple phases after the half time break leading to Pete Samu’s brilliant piece of individual determination to break through a couple of tackles and run in a try from just over 20 meters out
  • The response from the Chiefs with the try by Aaron Cruden. A far higher pace and direct running resulted in him crushing over for a spectacular try
  • The patient dominant scrum of the Chiefs that gave them the platform for the Anton Lienert-Brown try
  • The Chiefs scrum crushing the Brumbies to get a penalty in the 69th minute… giving the Chiefs a sniff
  • The Brumbies defensive effort! Just after the 70th minute the Brumbies kept the Chiefs on the 22m for multiple phases until they forced the turnover

Final verdict

Chiefs: The Chiefs showed their first bit of vulnerability for the season. They struggled to manage with an initial barrage of the Brumbies. Their class however shone through by getting into the game around the 45th minute, despite being down by 26 points at the time. Work is however definitely needed on their composure and phase play. It was missing in the first half

Brumbies: Win or lose, the Brumbies are going to be an exciting prospect for the rest of the year. If this is the brand of rugby that will play for 80 minutes each week, we are in for some fireworks! Truly refreshing seeing this from an Australian team.