Super Rugby Qualifier - Brumbies 15-13 Cheetahs
Brumbies don't panic - Jake White
ESPN Staff
July 21, 2013
The Brumbies' Nic White shapes to pass the ball, Brumbies v Cheetahs, Super Rugby, Super Rugby qualifier, Canberra Stadium, July 21, 2013
Nic White was integral in the Brumbies' effort © Getty Images

Brumbies coach Jake White paid tribute to the mental strength and fortitude of his players, saying their belief in each other was key in their Super Rugby qualifier victory against the Cheetahs at Canberra Stadium.

The Brumbies defeated the Cheetahs by two points despite conceding the only two tries of the game, and despite failing to get true benefit from their dominance of both possession and territory. And they were left able only to watch Riaan Smit's last-minute conversion of Rayno Benjamin's try that hit the left goalpost but would have forced extra-time had it not faded quite so far.

"You look at all successful teams, they win those close games," White said. "The one thing that sticks out: [the Brumbies] play for each other; that's evident in the way they play. They have a belief in themselves; they believe they can get the job done.

"Iit didn't matter whether we conceded a try quickly or that the first time they're in our half they get a five-pointer; you can just see the way they talk to each other. They don't panic, they understand what they have to do, and they have belief in the structure of how they want to play."

White looked forward to the Super Rugby semi-final against the Bulls in Pretoria, saying "mentally we have to be ready for something that's coming".

There's a sell-out crowd at Loftus - 58,000 people - they've got an unbelievable record there in terms of finals footy. They've got a goal-kicker like Morne Steyn; obviously he won't miss those kicks like they were missed tonight. Mentally, we just have to be prepared for what's coming."

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske, meanwhile, lamented "too many mistakes, too many penalties" as his side's maiden finals campaign came to a dramatic end. "If you're in the quarter-finals, it's quite important to keep away from bad discipline ... half-time it was 7-2, I think, the penalty count. That put us under a lot of pressure.

"But also credit to the Brumbies. They attacked our breakdown quite well, and we could never get momentum and quick ball."

Drotske said the Cheetahs' season had been a "step in the right direction" - primarily a result of their improved defensive efforts illustrated by their effort to keep the Brumbies tryless in Canberra for the first time in 2013 - but he said "it's quite important we build on that next year".

The Brumbies survived a stern challenge from the Cheetahs (video available only in Australia)

Super Rugby semi-finals

July 26

1-Chiefs v 4-Crusaders, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

2-Bulls v 3-Brumbies, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Super Rugby final

August 3

Winner of the two semi-finals, with the highest-ranked team to host the match

George Smith was named man of the match © Getty Images
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand

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