Brumbies flanker Scott Fardy says his side’s mentality has to improve ahead of a knockout final against the Highlanders.
The Brumbies went into their final regular season match against the Force knowing they needed just a losing bonus point to secure their knockout spot and Fardy admitted that affected their lead-up.
“(It was) a bit of a strange game on Saturday and I’m the first to admit that we didn’t play the best and we didn’t do our best on Saturday night but obviously finals are a different story,” he said.
“I think coming into that game was we knew we only had to get one point.
“It was hard to get going – both teams kind of didn’t play real finals kind of footy.
“We changed what we do now and really take off into this week.”
The Brumbies have won just one match against a New Zealand team this season – their round one shellacking of the Hurricanes – but dominated most of the vital statistics in their 23-10 loss to the Highlanders in round 10.
Most interestingly, the Brumbies topped their Kiwi counterparts in offloads, a skill that has become New Zealand teams’ most destructive this year.
It was the Highlanders’ relentless defence and an 18-point haul from Lima Sopoaga that stopped the Brumbies that night, with the Kiwis forced to make 120 tackles in the game.
One of the critical battles that night was that of the number nines, Tomas Cubelli and Aaron Smith, in which the latter reminded why he is considered the best scrumhalf in the world.
Cubelli said the team would definitely be drawing on that last clash as they prepare for this weekend’s match up, one that has far higher stakes.
“I think it is a game to think about,” he said.
“We played a great first half, we played good rugby, running rugby, despite the weather – the weather wasn’t good but we tried to shape them to play our rugby and we can take some things from that.
“Now we have to think why it wasn’t reflected in the scoreboard and try to reflect it now this week.”
Frost and a scheduling clash at Canberra Stadium mean the match will be at an unusual 6pm kick-off on Friday and the ACT franchise is campaigning hard for a big crowd.
Free pies and the ACT chief minister echoing former prime minister Bob Hawke’s famous America’s Cup quip are just some of the ways they’re drumming up support.
Fardy said pulling a big crowd would be more than just a noise generator at Canberra Stadium.
“I think every time we have a big crowd, you see the result, you see the players lift,” he said.
“So, it’s huge for us to have a big crowd in and it’s great for game in the capital and we’re looking forward to it.”
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