Brumbies to go on the offensive

The Brumbies may have been a bit erratic this season and nowhere near the standard that we have come to expect of the two-time Super Rugby champions, but they are ready to unleash the full might of their attacking force on the Cheetahs.

Captain Stirling Mortlock, speaking from the team’s base at the gambling resort of Sun City, said they are determined to increase their try-scoring tally – having secured just seven touch-downs in six starts.

The Brumbies have decided to base themselves on the Highveld, at this luxurious resort about 100km west of Johannesburg, ahead of their opening game on a three-match tour of South Africa – which will be in the rarified air of Bloemfontein, against the Cheetahs, on Saturday.

They follow that up with a game against the Sharks in Durban and the return to the Highveld when they face the Lions in Johannesburg.

For Mortlock the most important aspect of the tour is not how many games his team wins, but rather the quality of the rugby they play and more importantly – the quality of their attacking play.

They scored just four tries in their first five outings of the season – including two matches in which they failed to score a try – before suddenly finding some semblance of their old attacking form against the Stormers in Canberra last week.

The 26-13 win produced three tries and showed that the Brumbies can still sparkle with the ball in hand.

“We got quite a bit of confidence from our win over the Stormers last week and we now have three weeks here in South Africa, which is a crucial part of our campaign in our push for the play-offs,” Mortlock told this website.

He said they are not targeting specific games on tour for victory and added that “all games are vital” in the team’s push to improve it’s position on the standings.

“What’s more important is the quality of the football we play.

“The problem has been our inability to punish the opposition with ball in hand. We haven’t done as well as we would have liked in this regard. We returned to form from that point [against the Stormers] last week, and it is very important that we do that [carry the ball in hand] well, and then the victories and the results will come.”

Mortlock said there were several reasons why the Brumbies struggled to get going in the earlier rounds.

“Basically the other teams’ defensive structures are getting better, and also teams deal with the travel aspect much better than they have been.

“Also, all the games are certainly more competitive and there are no easy games.

“Another aspect is that the breakdowns are now so hotly contested and the ball is not so freely available to play our expansive, ball in hand game.

“That is why it is important that when we get into a situation where we can win game that we do and get the result.”

He said it was difficult to pinpoint exactly why Australian teams are struggling this year, but injuries have played a role – with the Western Force in fourth place the best of the Aussies sides, followed by the Brumbies at number seven, while the Waratahs (13th) and Reds (14th) are propping up the 14-team table.

“All the Australian teams have basically had a pretty slow start this year. There are different reasons for different teams.

“The Reds and Waratahs have had some significant injuries. We [the Brumbies] have had a few injuries as well, but generally we’ve just not been as effective on attack as we would normally have been.

“The force finally got their first home win last week and they are doing well.

“It’s difficult to pinpoint why the Australian teams are struggling, but it is relatively early days in the tournament yet and it is a very, very tight competition. The teams that are in the best form are at the top of the standings and they deserve to be there.”

Mortlock said the Cheetahs will be “very motivated” to make amends

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