The Brumbies prepared for their visit to South Africa by swatting aside a tame Melbourne Rebels with ease, winning 37-6 in Canberra on Saturday.
But while the scoreline suggests a dominance of epic proportions, the Brumbies were no great shakes themselves and will be more than happy to come away with a big win against a team whose Super Rugby credentials continue to be questioned.
The game will hardly go down as a classic, and while the Brumbies were far superior in every aspect of the game, their own frailties and mistakes made this game far from entertaining as especially the second half was dominated by both teams’ mistakes.
Still, what the Brumbies do, they do well generally. They are nowhere near a flashy side, nowhere near the grunt of some of the bigger sides in the competition.
But they limit their mistakes and look to play off the opposition’s, keeping things tight and play it tight to make them a very effective unit indeed.
The Rebels have themselves to blame for the first half slump as much of their woes came through poor defence and indiscipline which cost them dearly in the end. However, by the time they righted their wrongs in the second half, they still struggled as their attack contained little or no penetration, making it easy for the Brumbies to stop them from scoring points.
The rot started when Pat McCabe broke James O’Connor’s ineffective one-on-one tackle to allow the midfielder to score under the posts. Things got worse when Michael Hooper added a second shortly afterwards, after it looked as if he was stopped in the tackle, only to burst through several bodies and score.
Scott Fardy added his name to the scoresheet by crashing over from close range and just before the break Ben Mowen got the bonus point try to leave the Rebels trailing 30-6 at halftime.
In the second half there were so many mistakes that it was easy to see the frustration coming in. The Rebels may have been better but with their turnover count going past 20 on the hour mark, they were never going to challenge their opposition.
Fardy added his second – the only score of the horrible 40 minutes – to see his side home.
Brumbies – Tries: Pat McCabe, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy (2), Ben Mowen. Conversions:Christian Lealiifano (3). Penalties: Lealiifano (2).
Melbourne Rebels – Penalty: Danny Cipriani.