Super Rugby - Round 1
Pocock leads Brumbies to victory over Reds
February 16, 2013
Brumbies overpower disjointed Reds in Canberra%]
The David Pocock effect has begun in Canberra, with the Wallabies flanker leading the Brumbies to an emphatic 24-6 Super Rugby win over Queensland.
Brumbies coach Jake White talked the talk in the pre-season, boasting that with Pocock in their side, the boys from the ACT can return to the glory days of old. Saturday night's two-tries-to-nothing victory proved they are certainly on the right path.
Jesse Mogg scored both tries for the Brumbies, but it was their suffocating defence that shut down Quade Cooper and the Reds. The fiery build-up to the anticipated match continued on the pitch, with players coming together for some push in shove at regular intervals in the first half.
There was plenty of rust for Pocock and his teammates, but the world's most dominant No.7 added an edge the Brumbies lacked last year when they stumbled with a finals berth in reach. The win broke a two-match losing streak against Queensland as the Brumbies showed they'll again build their campaign around a rock-solid defensive game.
Halfback Nic White played a leading role, setting up a try and kicking two long-range penalties that kept the Reds out of reach. Nine minutes into the match and with referee Andrew Lees playing the advantage in the Reds' 22, White dabbed a smart kick in behind the line, with speedster Mogg touching down in the corner.
Penalty kicks from White and Mogg had the Brumbies in control, before flying fullback Mogg put the icing on the cake with a last-minute intercept try.
Last year Queensland ground out a 13-12 win in Canberra and went on to steal the Brumbies finals spot in the last round when White's men choked against the Blues.
With Pocock in their stable and playmaking combination Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano back from injury, the Brumbies showed signs against Queensland that they are back with a vengeance. Toomua and Lealiifano ran the backline smoothly, in the second half especially, and showed a willingness to run the ball to the line.
Clyde Rathbone didn't see much ball in his much anticipated return after a four-year retirement.
Queensland fly-half Cooper didn't get much opportunity to show his wares, with the Reds scarcely getting themselves into an attacking position all night.
Fullback Mike Harris booted two penalties for the visitors but was offline with a couple of other strikes.
The match was a brutal affair from the get-go, with Pocock engaged in a willing battle with Queensland No.7 Liam Gill.
White said with the score 8-6 at halftime, the game was in the balance, before his team showed they learnt something from last year's experiences.
"It was like a Test match for the first 60 minutes. Nothing was given at the breakdown," White said. "What we spoke about at halftime they enacted in the second half and got some just reward."
White praised man-of-the-match Mogg and star recruit Pocock for turning the match at the crucial moments in what is his first match in Canberra since switching from the Western Force.
"It doesn't matter how you paint it, it's tough for someone to join another franchise and just slot in," White said. "So if that's the first game and that's the standard he's playing at with a new group of players, it all bodes well for the rest of the year."
Reds director of coaching Ewen McKenzie was reasonably happy with the efforts of Cooper, who spent his pre-season preparing for a maiden boxing bout - and was encouraged by his team's defence.
"I was most disappointed with the quality of ball control in attack," McKenzie said. "Certainly aspects of defence we were really pleased with, that's really come along. And that's always a good indicator with where you're at with your attitude. But in the end they were able to generate enough pressure."
Jesse Mogg scored both tries for the Brumbies to beat Queensland. © Getty Images
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