The Brumbies shook off some rust to preserve their unbeaten record against Australian opposition in 2020 with a 31-23 victory over the Rebels on Saturday night to confirm their favouritism in the 12-week competition.
While their trademark driving maul once again proved the difference, with three of the Brumbies’ five tries coming from the potent play, the hosts saved their best work for the post-match press conference.
Forced to relocate to Canberra nine days ago after a major spike in coronavirus cases in Melbourne, the Rebels have become Super Rugby’s version of the NRL’s Warriors, indefinitely stranded and locked out of their state away from family.
“I think they do know the sacrifices they’re making and I think everyone involved in this comp thanks them,” Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa said.
“And also the Western Force and the sacrifices they’re making to be away from their families to make this comp run.”
Rebels skipper Dane Haylett-Petty was putting on a brave face, claiming he and teammates just had to “get on with the job”.
“Who knows what will happen in the future and how long we’ll be on the road for but at the moment we’re just enjoying being back playing footy,” he said.
But coach Dave Wessels recognised the testing times for the Rebels and was unsure how long his players could sustain such a nomadic existence.
“The challenge is there for probably those guys who have kids,” Wessels said.
“That’s fine for probably two or three or four weeks but, if it’s going to be until the end of the comp, then we’re just trying to figure out a way for people to get connected to their kids in particular.
“But there’s also just a realism among the team that there’s a lot of people out there who are going through much tougher things than we are so the boys are pretty level-headed about it.
“To be honest, I think they’ve been excellent about it.
“They’ve really ripped into the training that we have been allowed to do.”
Unbeaten in 3 games against Aussie opposition before the suspension of the regular Super Rugby competition in March, the Brumbies’ latest victory confirms their favouritism for the revamped, smash-and-grab domestic tournament.https://t.co/xhMuK02dKh
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 4, 2020
The Rebels’ round-two ‘home’ game against the Queensland Reds on Friday night is slated for Brookvale Oval but even Wessels was uncertain when they’d leave Canberra for Sydney.
As in the Reds’ hoodoo-busting 32-26 win over the NSW Waratahs in Brisbane on Friday night, only 1500 fans were allowed into GIO Stadium amid ongoing social distancing restrictions.
But the players still felt the Super Rugby intensity.
“The physicality was certainly there. The Brumbies probably battered us a bit there in the first half,” Haylett-Petty said.
The Reds take on the Rebels after their first win over the Waratahs in seven years, while the Tahs host the Force on Saturday at the SCG.
The Brumbies have a round-two bye.
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