Kiwi Super Rugby sides sweep 'winless, hopeless' Aussies 25-0
Wallabies prop Scott Sio is adamant the Brumbies can end Australian rugby's Kiwi nightmare in the Super Rugby finals despite a New Zealand clean sweep of trans-Tasman matches.
Australian teams lost all 25 games this year against Kiwi foes, a first since Super Rugby kicked off in 1996. Even the Japanese Sunwolves snared a Kiwi scalp - embarrassing the Blues 48-21 in Tokyo.
The Brumbies lost the last game of the regular season against the Chiefs 28-10 in Hamilton on Saturday afternoon, but will get a shot at Kiwi redemption in a quarterfinal at Canberra Stadium next weekend.
The drought prompted Daily Telegraph rugby writer Jamie Pandaram to start his post-mortem report with two telling words: "Winless. Hopeless."
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"Most of the matches haven't been close, highlighting the growing chasm between the traditional rivals one month before the first test of the Bledisloe Cup, a trophy Australia has not held since 2002," Pandaram wrote.
He said unless the Brumbies are able to turn it around in the playoffs the "Wallabies players will have to prepare for a showdown with New Zealand in a year where none of their players know what defeating a Kiwi team feels like".
The Brumbies host the Hurricanes in the first week of the play-offs and will have to end Australia's 31-match losing streak against New Zealand rivals to keep their season alive.
Stephen Larkham's Brumbies haven't beaten a New Zealand side since round one last year, ironically against the Hurricanes.
In an ominous sign for the Brumbies, the defending-champion Hurricanes beat the top-of-the-table Crusaders on Saturday night to book their ticket to Canberra.
But the match that matters most will be a finals showdown and Sio is confident the Brumbies can stop the domination, declaring "people only remember who won the competition" as they chase a drought-breaking title.
"The big thing we can take from the game against the Chiefs is the resilience we showed, that will be what gets us across the line in the finals," Sio told the Canberra Times.
"We believe we can continue on for the next three weeks. We just have to believe we can win and get the job done.
"It doesn't matter which Kiwi side you come up against, they all play a similar style. It will be a big challenge, but we're looking forward to it. At the end of the day, everyone only remembers who won the competition.
"To do that we've got to win every game from now on. It's sudden death and we're ready for the challenge."
The Australian Super Rugby teams 2017 report cards make for sorry reading.
The lowly Sunwolves posted more points against the Blues (48) than any Australian team managed against a Kiwi opponent.
Daryl Gibson's Waratahs registered four try-scoring bonus points against New Zealand sides - only failing to miss the mark once, in a 41-22 defeat to the Crusaders. They outscored the Blues, five tries to four, but lost 40-33 on goalkicking.
The Waratahs were the only Australian team to post more than 100 points (142) against the New Zealand franchises - but their problem was stemming the tide of tries at the defensive end. They conceded 209 points - at an average of more than 40 a game.
The Rebels' defence was even more porous - 246 points across five games at an average of almost 50 points per match. They suffered the biggest shellacking of the Australian season (71-6 to the Hurricanes).
Outside the Waratahs, only the Reds were able to register the try-scoring bonus point, in the 34-29 defeat to the Blues in Suva.
The rolling maul-obsessed Brumbies were Australia's best defensive unit against the New Zealand clubs, giving up 137 points.
They secured three defensive bonus points for losses of seven points or less against the Crusaders (17-13), Highlanders (18-13) and the Blues (18-12).
But their pop-gun attack meant they never managed a four-try performance.
The Force were Australia's lowest scorers in the Kiwi clashes, accumulating just 57 points (around 11 per game). The Rebels and Brumbies posted 69 and the Reds 98.
AUSTRALIAN ROLL OF SHAME
The 25 defeats to New Zealand Super Rugby teams
FORCE: Lost to the Crusaders 45-17, Blues 24-15, Chiefs 16-7, Highlanders 55-6, Hurricanes 34-12. For: 57. Against: 174.
REBELS: Lost to the Blues 56-18, Hurricanes 71-6, Chiefs 27-14, Crusaders 41-19, Highlanders 51-12. For: 69. Against: 246.
BRUMBIES: Lost to the Crusaders 17-13, Highlanders 18-13, Hurricanes 56-21, Blues 18-12, Chiefs 28-10. For: 69. Against: 137.
WARATAHS: Lost to the Crusaders 41-22, Blues 40-33, Chiefs 46-31, Hurricanes 38-28, Highlanders 44-28. For: 142 Against: 209.
REDS: Lost to the Crusaders 22-20, Hurricanes 34-15, Chiefs 46-17, Blues 34-29, Highlanders 40-17. For: 98. Against: 176.
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