Super Rugby 2017: Brumbies v Blues Preview


We preview Sunday's solitary Super rugby fixture which sees the Brumbies host the Blues

The Brumbies were, predictably, well beaten by the Hurricanes in Wellington last week, eventually succumbing to a 56-21 defeat. They may not quite be having as bad a season as Australia's other "strongest" franchise, the Waratahs, but they have nevertheless been seriously underwhelming in 2017. This Sunday, they host a Blues side coming off of a bye, and one that still has hopes of sneaking into the qualifying places. This is sure to be one of the more interesting contests this weekend, and one that really could go either way.

Brumbies v Blues | Sunday 30 April | GIO Stadium | 08:05

To Win (80 Mins)
Brumbies 31/20 | Draw 22/1 | Blues 47/100
Brumbies (+4.5) 9/10 | Blues (-4.5) 9/10

Stephen Larkham's bunch may be leading the Australian challenge this season (having picked up 17 log points so far - 7 more than the second-placed Reds), but don't let that fool you. His, is a side that has lost to every one of the four fixtures played against overseas teams, and one that has seriously battled to assert their game-plan over their opposition in 2017.

A decade ago, these results would indicate that the Brumbies' (and indeed, the entire Aussie contingents') shortfalls are due to a lack of quality coaching options but, perhaps more darkly, the fault is due to a lack of interest among young Australian athletes. A recent poll suggests that rugby union is just the eighteenth most popular sport in the country - a study that may aid in rationalising Australian Rugby's decision to disband one of their franchises from 2018, and thus developing a stronger, smaller playing pool.

Alas, I digress. The Blues will keep the Brumbies' defence on their toes throughout the eighty, with game-breakers of the variety of Rieko Ioane, Augustine Pulu as well as a man by the name of Sonny, in their backline. Tevita Kuridrani and co. will have their hands full trying to keep their counterparts quite this weekend, but successfully doing so will see them win the encounter. The Brumbies are due a victory and, as I alluded to last week, bettering a Kiwi side could do their season a whole world of good.

Coming off of their bye, Tana Umaga's Aucklanders will be feeling fresh and ready to issue their assault on the qualifying places. Six-points behind their nearest contenders, the Highlanders, the Blues will need some big games (as well as a whole lot of other results) to go their way if they have any chance. They will feel aggrieved at letting a possible Hurricanes scalp get away from them a fortnight ago, as they were in control for the majority of that game before they let it slip away, but they have the chance to make amends in Canberra this Sunday.

We are yet to see the best of their potent backline this season, and Umaga will be demanding a performance befitting of the talent in his squad. The Blues will most likely look to keep ball in hand for this one, and attempt to run the Brumbies off their feet. They will be wary of allowing their hosts too much room to create chances, with the likes of Kuridrani and Henry Speight deadly from broken and turnover play.

Verdict: Blues 47/100
I expect the Brumbies to once again battle against foreign opposition. They are not being clinical enough with ball and hand, and this Blues side will make them pay if they fail to take their chances this weekend. The Blues will also be hungry to pursue a play-off place, and their desperation will see them over the line – it’s going to be close though!

Written by Shaun Goosen for!

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