Brumbies 12 Blues 18

It was a result that made clear what followers of Super Rugby have long suspected - the weakest New Zealand side are better than Australia's strongest.

The season to this point had provided plenty of evidence to support such an assertion but tonight it became official, as the Blues earned a deserved bonus-point victory over the Brumbies in Canberra.

This was the fifth-placed Kiwi team against their top-placed foes from across the Tasman. And there was a certainly gulf of quality. Just not the one those standings would have indicated.

The margin might have been narrow but there was a definitive gap between the teams, for one night at least. The Blues played with command in most facets, they scored the game's only three tries and made the Brumbies appear largely ordinary.

Advertisement

The only reason why the Blues faced a nervous finish was the same reason why they're still slightly off the pace in the Kiwi conference. It was there during narrow losses to the Highlanders and Hurricanes before their bye and it was there tonight.

It sure wasn't patience, regularly rolling through the phases as they soaked up a wealth of possession. And it was rarely a lack of skill, with the Blues' many game-breakers doing just that at various points, constantly testing the limits of their opposition's cover defence.

But there was an absence of a quality that truly separates the top sides, of the organisation and the structures needed to not only control the ball and stretch the Brumbies but put themselves in positions to consistently apply the finishing touch.

Despite forcing the home side to make twice as many tackles in the first half, that was the reason the Blues came away with only Matt Duffie's try. Sometimes, the Blues made errors in key situations; others, there was a shortage of imagination as the Brumbies repelled wave after wave of pressure.

The Blues' control did wane in the second spell but, on the flip side, they began to exhibit the same levels of obstinance their opponents had been showing all afternoon.

Ill-discipline was the only thing costing the Blues and the only thing allowing to boot of Wharenui Hawera to keep the Brumbies close, adding three points at a time to counter a couple of tries produced by the visitors' set piece.

The first, to Akira Ioane, came from a lineout drive, while Melani Nanai's effort owed much to the Blues' confidence in the scrum, twice choosing to pack down rather than take aim at the posts.

That decision wasn't befitting a fifth-placed team seeking to upset a conference leader. It was about the Blues knowing they were superior and backing themselves to build a game-winning lead.

They were right.

Brumbies 12 (W. Hawera 4 pens)
Blues 18 (M. Duffie, A. Ioane, M. Nanai tries; B. Gatland pen)
Halftime: 3-8