Preview: Brumbies v Blues
Thursday, April 3, 2014 Sportal.co.nz Getty Images
LAST TIME: Brumbies 20 beat the Blues 13, May 25, 2013 at Eden Park
WALKING WOUNDED: Out for the Brumbies is hooker Stephen Moore who has been battling a niggling injury, the first time he has missed a game since 2011. The full Brumbies injury list includes: David Pocock, Fotu Auelua, Henry Speight, Scott Sio, Leon Power and Clyde Rathbone. Easing his way back into the team is centre Christian Lealiifano and he is likely to come off the bench. The loss of centre Jackson Willison may be greater than many think. He has been the link man for the side in recent weeks and provided some superb touches in the lead-up to tries. Tom Donnelly's calf muscle injury has concerns should one of the locks go down early. With Keven Mealamu still out Tom McCartney gets another chance at hooker where he had a fine game against the Crusaders.
FORM: The Brumbies looked the form horse, pardon the pun, in the Australian conference but they stumbled against the Rebels in Melbourne last week and have shown their vulnerabilities. They have been picked off for indiscipline in the ruck area and will need to change that approach if they are to keep on the right side of referees and, ultimately, the scoreboard. The Blues know that their effort against the Crusaders stands to be represented as a one-off if they can't back it up in Canberra. They had been too inconsistent before that but showed that their defence is stronger and they are capable of seizing onto quality ball.
WE THINK: The pressure is on the Blues in this encounter. They have yet to win away from home this season and the Brumbies are smarting after their loss to the Rebels. By aiming for a dominance of the set piece, the Blues could shut off possibilities for the Brumbies, but should they fail in that then the home team should have sufficient ball to make life difficult. It should be a home win for the Brumbies, but the Blues should not be taken lightly and are just as capable of a breakout performance if they get a sniff.
Brumbies: 1.JP Smith, 2.Siliva Siliva, 3.Ben Alexander, 4.Scott Fardy, 5.Sam Carter, 6.Jordan Smiler, 7.Jarrad Butler, 8.Ben Mowen (captain), 9.Nic White, 10.Matt Toomua, 11.Robbie Coleman, 12.Pat McCabe, 13.Tevita Kuridrani, 14.Joe Tomane, 15.Jesse Mogg.
Reserves: 16.Josh Mann-Rea, 17.Ruan Smith, 18.Ruaidrhri Murphy, 19. Jack Whetton, 20.Lachlan McCaffrey, 21.Conrad Hoffman, 22.Andrew Smith, 23.Christian Lealiifano.
Blues: 1.Tony Woodcock, 2.Tom McCartney, 3.Charlie Faumuina, 4.Liaki Moli, 5.Hayden Triggs, 6.Jerom Kaino (captain), 7.Brendon O'Connor, 8.Steve Luatua, 9.Bryn Hall, 10.Simon Hickey, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Ma'a Nonu, 13.George Moala, 14.Frank Halai, 15.Charles Piutau.
Reserves: 16.James Parsons, 17.Sam Prattley, 18.Angus Ta'avao, 19.Jordan Manihera, 20.Luke Braid, 21.Sontane Takulua, 22.Francis Saili, 23.Benji Marshall.
REFEREE: Rohan Hoffman
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