Over the past two years the Crusaders developed a game based on offensive defense. The underlying premise was pretty simple. Don't let the other team score tries and you'll most likely win. It wasn't always pretty, but provided they scored a few tries themselves and Mehrt's had his kicking boots on, they would inevitably notch another up...
The Brumbies strategy is the complete opposite really: Don't defend unless you have to. As anyone who has watched them knows, they are the undeniable masters of ball retention. It's bloody simple really. If you have the ball, you don't have to defend. That's not to say they don't have good defense... Conceding only twelve tries so far this Super 12 is testament to that!
The also know how to score tries. And plenty of them. Controversial they might be... but those decoy runners really work. 393 points in the Super12 preliminary rounds is pretty impressive reading.
League is a "possession" game. Look after the ball and you win. League teams don't kick the ball away unless they have to. Neither do the Brumbies. How many times did Mortlock kick posession away against the Crusaders? How many times did Mauger? Hmmmmmmmmmmm.....
League players also recycle the ball quickly when on attack. So do the Brumbies. Obviouly league players don't have to worry about rucks and mauls. So the Brumbies do their best not to either. They are a team who know how to present the ball for support players when tackled, and they have a pack of loosies who seem to be magnetically attracted to the ball, never far from the action.
Finally Gregan. He's a lynchpin really. And watching him mesmerising the Crusaders defense on Friday, he often reminded me of a League halfback. Running across the defensive line, holding the ball out he stuffed the Crusaders pattern by confusing the man on man defense. He slid across to somewhere near the 2nd five, creating options both ways. With runners coming in from every angle it was a nightmare for the defenders. Guys like Alan Langer, Stacey Jones, Geoff Toovey and that Commorley guy who plays for Melbourne Storm do it all the time. (Or did it in Langers case!) Poor old Vunibaka who struggles with basic defense most of the time didn't have a hope really.
I won't go on about the kicking too much, but did you notice any spiral punts? Nope. All end over end kicking. And torpedo place kicks! Bugger me... well, don't actually. But that is League through and through. Mortlock obviously makes it work, but personally I think the traditional Union kicking style is the better option.
So what does it take to overcome it? Buggered if I know. But shutting down Gregan would be priority 1 for me. Someone needs to be given that job and they will need to do it all night long.