The Brumbies will host the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra this weekend and are looking for a much needed result after they went down last week and dropped outside the top six. The Rebels have different ideas though, especially after these sides met in round seven at AAMI Park where the Rebels prevailed 32-24 victors on the night.
A lot has changed in ten weeks, thus begins this weekends assesment of the Brumbies.
After losing only two games from their first nine matches, the Brumbies have since won only once in the last four weeks to drop out of the top six and identify a major drop in form.
Last seasons runners-up lost by a heavy 20 points to the Crusaders in round 12 before picking up briefly with a 7 point win against top of the table Sharks at home the following week. A major confidence-deflating six point loss to the struggling Cheetahs ensued the week after, before a another heavy loss, this time 21 points at the hands of the Bulls, concluded their South African tour last weekend.
The dip in form certainly comes as a surprise to many after such a strong season, but it is also evident that the Brumbies have struggled away from home, with four of their five losses occuring on the road. Luckily for them they're back at home this weekend, but they must also remember that their upcoming navy blue challengers were triumphant when the two sides last did battle earlier this season.
The only major statistic that the Brumbies have a slight upper-hand in this season has been try-scoring. A total of 35 tries this season puts them in fourth in the competition, and means they've scored 13 more tries than the Melbourne Rebels.
Aside from this, the only other extremes from the statistics department are negatives for the Brumbies. They rank last in both tackle success (at 84.7%) and scrum success at 76%, which is 6% less than the second-last Waratahs, 10% lower than their opponents the Rebels, and a whopping 16% behind stat leaders the Lions.
Players to watch
Despite the recent dip in form, the Brumbies still harbour a plethora of top backline talent -- to the point where you could almost make an entire Wallabies-quality backline just from Brumbies players alone (and it might come close to happening in a weeks time).
The halfbacks for the Brumbies are two of the best in Australia, and are both hot favourites to start for the Wallabies in the upcoming international tests. Nic White at no.9 is an extremely versatile scrumhalf and will be a colossal task for young Ben Meehan to go up against, but it is White's partner in crime, Matt Toomua, who will be the one to look out for this week.
Toomua will start at no.10 and is one of hottest players in Australian rugby union right now. He has the ability to play as first or second receiver in a side, he's quick on his feet, quick with his hands, smart, exciting, and a nightmare for opposition sides. He is the one to watch.
Other names to look out for are Christian Leali'ifano, the strong running Tevita Kuridrani, the ever-consistent Stephen Moore, and versatile forward Scott Fardy.
HAVE YOUR SAY: How will the Brumbies recover from their poor form from the last month? Will Matt Toomua cause the Rebels some headaches? And can the Brumbies get their scrum right for this week?
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