Brumbies look for killer blow



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The ACT Brumbies are searching for more clinical finishing to realise maximum points against South Africa’s Coastal Sharks as they try to make up some ground on Super 14 rugby leaders Canterbury Crusaders this weekend.

Australia’s most successful Super rugby franchise won comfortably over South Africa’s Golden Cats last week but could not seal it with a four-try bonus point in a 28-7 win in Canberra.

The innovative Brumbies will again have home ground advantage against the 10th-placed Sharks and former South African Under-21 captain Clyde Rathbone has called for more decisiveness to claim the major spoils and work on reducing their four-point gap to the Crusaders.

Rathbone said that it was imperative for the Brumbies to start punishing teams when try-scoring opportunities arise. “We beat the Cats quite comfortably but we played nowhere near our best,” Rathbone said.

“So if we can build on our performance and be a little more clinical in finishing we’ll go a long way.”

The Sharks have had a torrid start to their five-match Australasian road-trip, losing 22-20 to the Crusaders and 31-16 against the Waratahs and they will have to undo a formidable home record to beat the Canberra-based Brumbies.

“We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve that we are going to unleash on attack,” Sharks’ coach Dick Muir said.

“We are going to attack them in a way they haven’t been tested yet.

“We have identified a few players we are going to give special attention to and pressurise, but Clyde isn’t one of them.” 

The unbeaten Crusaders have preferred Andrew Ellis over All Blacks No.9 Kevin Senio for the scrumhalf matchup with the Waikato Chiefs’ All Black Byron Kelleher in Hamilton on Friday.

Coach Robbie Deans said it was a horses-for-courses selection as he wants to use Ellis’ physical presence against the rugged Kelleher. The Chiefs have moved into sixth after strong wins over Australian teams Western Force and Queensland Reds.

The second-placed Wellington Hurricanes have some internal tensions to resolve ahead of their match with the Western Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday. Hurricane players Jerry Collins and Lome Fa’atau came to blows in a Bloemfontein nightclub last weekend and coach Colin Cooper has the option of sacking the pair for this weekend’s match.

Cooper set a precedent two years ago when he dropped current All Blacks Ma’a Nonu and Neemia Tialata for their Cape Town match against the Stormers after an undisclosed incident, but he is already without injured All Blacks midfielders Tana Umaga and Conrad Smith.

The Stormers have come in for fierce criticism and Western Province director of rugby Nick Mallett has questioned the commitment of a side that missed around 40 percent of their first-time tackles in last weekend’s loss to the Otago Highlanders at home.

Mat Rogers makes his first start at fly-half for the fourth-placed NSW Waratahs against the Cats in Sydney on Friday.

Rogers was named as the Waratahs No.10 this week after impressing in his 30-minute stint off the bench against the Sharks last Saturday in his first game of the season. “He’s the kind of player who continually puts the defence in two minds, which will be an asset against the Cats,” Waratahs’ coach Ewen McKenzie said.

The Northern Bulls are back from last weekend’s bye to take on the fifth-placed Highlanders in Pretoria on Saturday, looking to build on their 26-17 win over the Waratahs a fortnight ago. There could be a few sparks when Queensland host Western Force in Brisbane on Saturday.

The Perth-based franchise lured eight of the 2005 Reds squad, including skipper Nathan Sharpe, to their inaugural season squad and some are viewing it as a chance for Reds’ revenge.

Former Wallabies winger Ben Tune will make another long-awaited return from knee and hamstring injuries off the Reds’ bench in the match between the two win-less Australian sides. Auckland Blues and Central Cheetahs have the weekend off.

Source : Sapa-AFP /ak

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