The Brumbies’ 24-0 victory over the Western Force marked the first time in 13 years that the plucky Perth franchise has been kept scoreless.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar was delighted with the defensive desire and equally pleased to have unearthed another star in the making in 22-year-old Bayley Kuenzle.
The rookie five-eighth stepped in for fellow young gun Noah Lolesio and handled the playmaking duties with aplomb on debut at wet and windy Leichhardt Oval.
“BK got an opportunity and took it. It’s pleasing to get that development aspect right,” McKellar said.
“We talk all the time about when we expose the young players that they’re ready to. We don’t throw them under the bus.
“They’re young men and that position in particular there’s a lot of responsibility to make calls, direct your team around the park and tell guys much more senior them what to do.”
The Brumbies will face fellow unbeaten outfit the Queensland Reds on Saturday night with the chance to skip clear of the pack at the half-way point of the 10-round tournament.
But skipper Allan Alaalatoa admitted the bruising nature of the competition is taking a physical toll.
“It’s definitely been tough,” he said.
“Every week you’re just building up for a final and every game we’ve played so far the body’s taken a beating.
“It takes a little bit longer to recover and that can take some time to get used to.
“The thing for us is to continue to build our preparation and build for a physical battle because you want to be the best team in Australia.
'We are going to lose 10 years of rugby that we’ve built'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 26, 2020
“The Reds are obviously a very good side.
“They’re setting the standard there with the set piece and we know as a forward pack we have to be prepared for another physical battle.
“They’re coming off the back of a bye week so they’re going to be fresh and ready to turn up.”
While the Brumbies and Reds are undefeated, the Force remain winless while traditional heavyweights the NSW Waratahs are merely making up the numbers.
The Waratahs have a round-five bye, leaving the Rebels with the chance to consolidate third place – and the last finals spot – with victory over the Force on Friday night in Sydney.
– Darren Walton
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