African-born duo Clyde Rathbone and David Pocock celebrate ACT's win over the Reds. Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au
In just one match, David Pocock showed the rest of the Super Rugby competition why he may well single-handedly turn the ACT Brumbies in to the team to beat in the Australian Conference this season. Michael Hooper was outstanding at openside flanker last season, but Pocock is World XV class and showed why on Saturday night against Queensland with a number of takeaways. In a match where referee Andrew Lees blew 19 of his 21 penalties for ruck infringements, Pocock adapted best earning a series of whistles in his team’s favour towards the back end of the contest.
After disposing of the 2011 Super Rugby champions, the Brumbies this week head to Melbourne for a banana peel match against the Rebels. It’s a match Jake White’s team should win, but one where they could easily slip up against the other winner from the opening week of the competition. Indeed, the Brumbies lost to Melbourne in round 2 in 2011 by one point, when the Rebels were coming off a 43-0 debut thrashing by the Waratahs.
The Rebels were fortunate to eke out a 30-23 win over Western Force after conceding the first 11 points and being down by one at half-time . Damian Hill’s team is fast gathering a reputation as being a slow starter, and Friday night’s clash was the fifth straight time his outfit has gone to the sheds behind at AAMI Park. The win was achieved against a Force line-up bereft of the likes of Brett Sheehan, Salesi Ma’afu and Hugh McMeniman, so the Rebels will need to vastly improve to have any hope of toppling the Brumbies.
What did please coach Hill is that both James O’Connor and Laurie Weeks got through the match unscathed in their comebacks from injury. Sidelined wingers Cooper Vuna (scapula) and Jason Woodward (finger) will also be back for the upcoming trip to South Africa, but won’t be available for selection this week.
The Brumbies won the corresponding match late last season when, again, the Rebels got off to a slow start letting the visitors build a 14-3 lead before a late Zack Holmes penalty goal sealed a 27-19 win for the ACT.
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