Brumbies to go the ‘conservative’ route

The Brumbies are set to move away from their all-action, phase-orientated game plan to a more conservative “win-at-all-costs” approach when they face the Stormers at the Canberra Stadium on Friday.

Following their 19-7 loss to the defensive-minded Bulls last week – their second straight loss at home – coach Laurie Fisher revealed that winning rather than scoring tries has now become the team’s main objective.

The Brumbies, 10th on the Super 14 standings, not only lost their last two home games (it is actually three in a row in Canberra if their May 2006 loss to the Highlanders is taken into consideration), it is also the first time since 2002 that they have lost two home games in one year.

In fact the Brumbies’ multi-phase game has not served them well in recent years. They have been on a steady decline since their last championship – under David Nucifora in 2004, when they beat the Crusaders 47-38 in the Final.

In 2005 they finished outside the top four (play-off places) for the first time since 1999 and they went from fifth in 2005 to sixth last year.

Now, at 10th with just two narrow wins – 21-15 over the second-from-last Chiefs and 6-3 against the bottom-placed Reds – from five starts, Fisher appears desperate to steady the sinking ship.

Fisher told the Canberra Times that his team probably had erred in searching for a four-try bonus point win against the Bulls, despite having scored just three tries from four matches before the game.

The Brumbies, who through inside centre Gene Fairbanks managed a try during a rare defensive lapse by the Bulls at the weekend, are in danger of falling off the pace before a difficult run home.

A trip to South Africa – including games against the improved Cheetahs, Sharks and Lions – follows the Stormers clash, before fixtures against the full-strength Crusaders and ever-improving Highlanders.

The Brumbies are the worst attacking side in the competition, accumulating just 59 points from their five matches.

Fisher admitted tensions over the Brumbies’ try-scoring woes had led to them being overly ambitious against the Bulls.

“I think the guys carried with them a real desire to get a bonus point and I think that does create pressure to push a pass,” Fisher told the Canberra Times.

“I think we’ve got to focus on winning the game first, that’s the first and foremost thing on us getting four points and I think the entertainment and the bonus point comes secondly to that.

“We want to entertain, we want to score bonus points, but we want to win games of football.”

The likely return of captain Stirling Mortlock and winger Clyde Rathbone will aid that desire this Friday.

“Certainly Stirling looks as though he’s definitely back in and hopefully Clyde will be back in…but certainly they’re looking quite good at this stage,” Fisher said.

 

365 Digital

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