How did it go so wrong for the Brumbies?


Three tries in seven minutes. A seven-point lead at half-time. How did that turn into a 35 point defeat? That's the question Brumbies players and their fans will be asking themselves while their heads still spin on Saturday morning. The Brumbies put themselves in a position to break a seven-game losing streak in New Zealand and end the Kiwi's dominance against Australian teams. They led 21-14 at half-time after some scintillating attacking play gave them a surprise lead. But the Hurricanes turned on the afterburners after the break and scored 42 unanswered points. How? Beauden Barrett brilliance combined with the Brumbies running out of steam after a high-octane 50 minutes. The killer blow came when Wharenui Hawera was sent to the sin bin at the start of the second half and while he was off the field, the Hurricanes snatched the lead and never surrendered it.


How good is it when the Brumbies hold on to the ball and take some risks? For too long they've played safety first, but Stephen Larkham has given the players a licence to take a chance. They will ultimately live and die by that approach. But they will also win plenty of admirers for actually having a crack in a game that can be stodgy and boring. The Brumbies' ran from inside their own 22 metre zone and their third try was a contender for the best of the season so far. It went through 10 sets of hands and they chose not to kick even when they looked in trouble. There will be times when it backfires. But that's the type of rugby that will bring the crowds back. There were over-the-shoulder passes, flick passes, no-look passes, normal passes. Five of those passes were one-handed and it worked for Joe Powell to score an absolute ripper. If the Brumbies are going to lose, fans just want to see them have a crack.


The Brumbies will be nervously waiting to see how Wallabies prop Scott Sio recovers from a knee injury. Sio went down in pain after the first scrum of the game and battled on for a few more minutes before he had to leave the field. Sio has only played a handful of games after suffering a pre-season hamstring injury that delayed the start to his year. He'll be desperately hoping the knee injury isn't serious so he can get back on the field. But if he can't, there's little doubt Nic Mayhew is up to the challenge of filling his boots. The former Auckland Blues front-rower played a key role in the Brumbies' first try and could start against his ex teammates at Canberra Stadium next Sunday.


Joe Powell has to be the Wallabies starting scrumhalf for the June Test series. It's as simple as that. The tenacious Canberra junior has shocked everyone with his development this year and he deserves to earn his first Test cap in the mid-year Tests. Will Genia is unlikely to play, leaving Powell to battle with Nick Phipps, Nick Frisby and several fringe No. 9s for Test duties. The best thing about Powell is that despite being just 83 kilograms, he puts his body on the line against the biggest players on the field. He's also a scrumhalf sniper who's willing to run and has a solid kicking game. If he doesn't stumble in the next month, he'll be wearing Wallabies gold for sure.


The Brumbies haven't won in New Zealand since 2014 and Australian teams have lost the first 13 trans-Tasman battles this year. There has to be two questions: How did it get this bad and will it end? The Kiwis are playing a level above everyone else in world rugby and there's a massive gap between them and the rest. They look almost certain to win another Super Rugby title. It's just a matter of which team, not if they will win it. Is their hope for Australian sides? The Western Force play the Waikato Chiefs on Saturday and then the Brumbies play the Auckland Blues next weekend in Canberra. There will either be a small spark for Australian rugby, but the most likely outcome is it will get ugly. Really ugly.

This story How did it go so wrong for the Brumbies? first appeared on Brisbane Times.