Embarrassed Brumbies refusing to panic
Brumbies coach Jake White hopes his team's horror showing against the Western Force will end up being the wake-up call they needed heading into the Super Rugby finals iphone cases for 5.
A whopping 17 handling errors combined with a series of brain fades consigned the Brumbies to a shock 21-15 loss to the lowly Force in their final-round clash in Perth on Saturday night.
The Brumbies would have been rewarded with second spot on the ladder and a home semi-final had they secured a bonus-point victory against the Force.
Instead, their embarrassing showing means they now need to win three finals games - including two on the road - if they are to snare this year's title.
Their quest begins in Canberra next Sunday afternoon, when they take on South Africa's unpredictable Cheetahs in an elimination final.
A win in that encounter would propel the Australian conference leaders into a daunting semi-final showdown with the Bulls in Pretoria a week later blackberry phone covers.
White conceded his team were mentally off their game against the Force, but backed them to return to their clinical best against the Cheetahs.
"We know we can't get any worse than we were tonight," White said.
"It's going to be a wake-up call now.
"We have now obviously got the low road in that we've got to play three games if we want to win the championship.
"But it's not all doom or gloom.
"We know we've played a lot of good rugby this year.
"We can't be worrying about the fact (of whether) this is going to dent any confidence."
In a quirk of the fixtures, the Brumbies and Cheetahs haven't met this year.
Although the Brumbies have won four of their past five encounters against the Bloemfontein-based side, they only prevailed by a point when the teams met in Canberra last year.
The Cheetahs have enjoyed their best season to date with a strong all-round attacking game and solid defence, and will be aiming to make their maiden finals appearance a memorable one wigs shop.
The Brumbies haven't featured in the post-season since winning the title in 2004, and remain quietly confident of going all the way despite their flop against the Force.
But they will need fullback Jesse Mogg and flyhalf Matt Toomua to regain their mojo if they are to achieve their goal of winning the title.
Both players endured a shocker against the Force, with Toomua committing the most basic of errors when he forgot to ground the ball after catching a wayward shot at goal by Force fullback Jayden Hayward.