The Brumbies’ kicking tactics proved the undoing of the Stormers according to coach Andy Friend.
The Canberra side are renowned for their attacking abilities with Wallabies Matt Giteau, Stirling Mortlock and Adam Ashley-Cooper all capable of breaking the line. The Brumbies only scored one try, through an intercept, in their 19-17 win over the Stormers, but Friend said it was the change in tactics that secured the four points.
While Giteau, Mortlock and Ashley-Cooper are fine runners, their prowess with the boot benefited the Brumbies.
‘We didn’t want to play too deep, as we have a great respect for this Stormers defence,’ said Friend. ‘We knew they like to play in some areas of the field, so we forced them to play in the areas they don’t.
‘It was a real arm-wrestle against what is a quality side, but I’m glad the guys stuck to the game plan.’
Friend celebrated a late try by George Smith only to watch the Stormers win a penalty in the final movement and boot the ball to touch. The hosts mauled the exhausted Brumbies before Pieter Louw scooted round to score. Unfortunately, Joe Pietersen was unable to add the extras that would have secured a draw.
‘A draw probably would have been a fair reflection,’ said Friend. ‘It was disappointing to see the players allowing the Stormers back right after we scored, but the gods were with us and he [Pietersen] missed the kick.
‘I’m pleased to be heading home with the win. I was also thrilled to match the champs [the Bulls] for 50 minutes last week. We played our normal game there, but we had to adjust our tactics this week because of the opposition’s defence.’
Brumbies captain Stephen Hoiles is looking forward to returning to Canberra next week which is unsurprising. The Brumbies will be hosting the hapless Lions, the worst defensive side in the Super 14.
‘I think you’ll see us playing more football against a team like the Lions. We respect the Stormers’ defence and we really couldn’t afford to throw it around tonight. There’s always the chance of giving away an intercept.’
By Jon Cardinelli