Back-to-back wins to open the season isn’t enough for coach Stephen Larkham to get too excited about the Brumbies’ prospects of a breakthrough Super Rugby title.
The Canberra-based outfit followed their bonus-point demolition of the Hurricanes at GIO Stadium in round one with a gutsy 32-15 victory over rivals the NSW Waratahs also at home on Friday.
The scoreline, blown out by a last-minute try to Nigel Ah Wong, didn’t reflect just how tight and tough the match was – having been locked up at 8-8 at half-time.
But the Brumbies’ tenacity impressed Larkham, as did their dominance in the scrum.
“I wouldn’t call it comprehensive – it was a real battle out there,” he said.
“The challenge in the line-out was a lot greater this week than it was last week, and this is what you’re going to find throughout the season; there’s going to be various strengths of opposition teams.
“We’re certainly not getting ahead of ourselves.
“We know we’ve had a really good pre-season, the boys put in a lot of work over Christmas – including the Wallabies players – and we’ve rolled into the season pretty well.
“But there’s a lot of work to be done still.”
The win – in front of more than 20,000 fans, their biggest home crowd in over a decade – snapped a four-game losing streak against the Waratahs, who have dominated the local derby in recent years.
It also sets them up well for a run of three away games – first against the Western Force in Perth, then trips to Cape Town and Bloemfontein to face the Stormers and Cheetahs.
While the Waratahs walked away from what was an old-fashioned arm wrestle with a longer list of casualties, the Brumbies didn’t emerge unscathed.
Inside centre Matt Toomua was left bloodied after being hit in the nose by Tolu Latu – later cited for the incident – in an all-in melee, while lock Blake Enever suffered a serious shoulder injury.
It’s likely Enever, who was given a start following an injury to Rory Arnold last week, will be sidelined for weeks.
“It was pretty ferocious,” departing co-captain Stephen Moore said of the match, which included two yellow cards to the Waratahs in the first-half.
Moore and his Wallabies teammates from both sides will put their differences aside on Saturday morning for a catch-up with national coach Michael Cheika, who watched the derby from the stands with a smile.