Brumbies lament errors and inexperience
August 3, 2013
Toby Smith and the Chiefs overpowered the Brumbies in the final 20 minutes © Getty Images
Brumbies coach Jake White considers inexperience rather than physical fatigue was the root cause of his side's inability to hold off the charging Chiefs in the final 20 minutes of the Super Rugby final at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday.
The Brumbies led by 10 points entering the final quarter at a sell-out Waikato Stadium, their territory-based game plan having stifled the defending champion Chiefs, who were willing to run the ball from everywhere, and hence quietened the crowd. But they were unable to hold on as the Chiefs gained great "energy" from their bench as they changed tactics to play more directly.
"With 20 minutes to go, I thought we had the game, not sewn up, but the pressure was [building]," White said when asked if the Brumbies had faded because of their gruelling four-week schedule leading into the final. "Obviously you're a bit heart sore and you feel like you could have won that. But you've got to be proud."
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said the Brumbies "disrupted and stole a lot of our ball, and it took us a while to work out a strategy to sort that out".
Brumbies captain Ben Mowen, meanwhile, said that a few errors late in the game had swung momentum against his side. "Instead of putting kicks in the spots we would have put them, or taking high balls, we dropped them," he said. "Next thing you know you're defending pick and go under your posts."
Ireland-bound Chiefs captain Craig Clarke was "relieved" to win his last game for the Hamilton-based side, saying "that's an awesome Brumbies team who have a huge amount of heart and put us under pressure".
Liam Messam scored from a five-metre scrum to make a five-point game heading into the final 15 minutes, and the Brumbies then surrendered the lead they'd held since the fifth minute when replacement Robbie Robinson scored a converted try to give his side a two-point buffer in the 67th minute.
White and Mowen also lamented their inability to send Brumbies champion George Smith back to Japan on a winning note, especially as the legendary loose forward had produced another standout performance.
"He's phenomenal," White said. "Everyone is talking about his performance. He epitomises everything we're trying to get to at the Brumbies. We would have liked to have given him a trophy and let him finish on a high note. But it wasn't meant to be."
The Chiefs overcame a strong challenge from the Brumbies (video available only in Australia)