17 May 2024

The Brumbies finals push effectively starts on Saturday against the Crusaders

| Tim Gavel
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Brumbies v Waratahs in May 2024

The Brumbies’ 29-21 win over the Waratahs last week was built on the back of defence. Photo Jayzie Photography.

The Brumbies have been playing finals-intensity football for the past month following the 46-7 loss to the Blues.

In the wake of the loss, the Brumbies appear to have tightened their defensive patterns, resulting in hard-fought wins over the Hurricanes, Fijian Drua and the Waratahs based on defence.

The result could have gone either way in all three games, but the Brumbies found a way to win with the passion that will be required when the finals get underway.

Only three games remain in the regular season, with the Brumbies facing the Crusaders, the Rebels and the Force in the run home. All three teams are below the Brumbies on the ladder.

The top two sides, the Hurricanes and the Blues, face the formidable Chiefs in the remaining rounds of the regular season.

The Brumbies game against the Crusaders on Saturday afternoon at Canberra Stadium has danger written all over it, with the Brumbies flying high in third place while the Crusaders are down near the bottom, with just two wins from 11 games this season.

If ever there was a scenario for an upset, this is it.

The Brumbies are celebrating 20 years since their 2004 Super Rugby premiership win over the Crusaders. To mark this occasion, they will wear a special edition 2024 Heritage Jersey featuring the original ACT Brumbies logo.

Brumbies coach Steve Larkham in the 2024 Heritage Jersey before the clash between the Brumbies and Crusaders. Photo: Brumbies.

Brumbies coach Steve Larkham in the 2024 Heritage Jersey. Photo: Brumbies.

If nothing else, the acknowledgment affords a trip down memory lane to the most helter-skelter finals match in Super Rugby history.

In front of almost 29,000 fans, the Brumbies led 33-nil after 19 minutes before the Crusaders, led by the great Richie McCaw, fought their way back into the game.

The Crusaders almost got there but a late Joe Roff try put the result out of reach of the New Zealand side. The Brumbies held on to secure their second Super Rugby title, 47-38.

Saturday’s game between the two sides is unlikely to go anywhere near the spectacle of 2004. I believe it could be tighter than many would expect between a team that has lost only two games this season and a side that has only won two games.

In the lead-up to finals, football teams generally play a tighter brand of rugby, focusing on fine-tuning the basics in defence.

It has the potential to be a minefield game, similar to the narrow win over the Fijian Drua a few weeks ago, while the victory over the Waratahs was unpredictable because of the conditions.

If the Brumbies can replicate the intensity displayed against the Hurricanes, they will win the comp. They just need to overcome three potentially difficult opponents on the way to the finals.

The Crusaders will have a mindset to upset the Brumbies, and while it will go nowhere near making up for the loss in 2004, it has the potential to unsettle the Brumbies and spoil the 20-year celebrations.

Get behind the Brumbies when they take on the Crusaders at GIO Stadium this Saturday. Tickets from Ticketek.

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