18 May

Moving and shaking
by Rob Wallace
18 May 2003

I really enjoyed this game, and predominantly from a forward perspective. I really rate this Brumbies pack – it’s basically close to an Australian test T5, and Smith and Finnegan ain’t bad either. I had some concerns about how the Blues would handle it but smart thinking/preparation, great continuity and pretty good set pieces saw them through. IMO the Brumbies have the best pack after the CCs and the Bulls, and the Blues were more than competitive. I was delighted with the forward effort, and they set the platform for the win.

Whether they can step it up a notch further to cope with the Crusaders is another question, but I think even the CCs would have difficulty coping with some of the rapid driving and offloading we saw in parts on Saturday.

Mealamu was great – he outplayed Paul by miles and must be very close to that AB jersey – and the Manu/Meeuws combination looks very solid. MacDonald had a great game – he reminds me a bit of Thorne when he started his S12 career as a lock – high work rate rather than the traditional skills. Williams was a good as usual.

Gus Collins was my MOTM and would still be my bolter for the ABs – *no* No6 has outplayed him this season [think about it] and he works tirelessly for the team. He took beautiful lineout ball and no-one went past him. I will be interested to see the Thorne/Collins battle next week. And Rush looks back to his NPC form finally, after a few ordinary weeks.

Backs: One of the key points is the way Tuitupou keeps the attack straight or runs straight inside Spencer. Because he doesn’t drift, the defence has to hold up and this makes space out wide. Presuming Spencer starts in the initial tests he will need a second5 to do this – I suspect both Umaga and Mauger can.

Overall this was a good win, a definite step up from last week. But they need a notch more, and after losses in the last 2 times they faced each other [S12 and NPC] Canterbury will know just what is coming.

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