RUGBY UNION: The Brumbies might have won a ninth straight derby with a 28-12 success over the Waratahs but it doesn't even paper over the cracks on what has been a miserable start to the Supr Rugby season for the Australian franchises.
The Brumbies are in fourth spot after back-to-back triumphs on NSW territory for the first time in the competition's 21-year history.
But as for the other five Australian teams, they have done nothing to help their cause with SANZAAR still apparently favouring cutting one of the teams from Down Under in a Super Rugby shake-up.
The Waratahs were woeful against the Brumbies and while the Rebels improved from hammerings by the Blues and Hurricanes, they nevertheless remain winless after falling 27-14 to the table-topping Chiefs at AAMI Park.
The Waratahs' third straight defeat, will probably see coach Daryl Gibson ring the changes ahead of the clash against the Rebels at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
"That puts us into a real hole. We're in a real battle, again," Gibson said of the defeat to the Brumbies.
"That's down to our own doing, really, so we've got no one else to blame except ourselves.
"Obviously things aren't working currently so we're going to have to really look at what we need to change to get them working, getting them to click," Gibson added.
"At the moment, it's an execution problem. We've got a set game plan but we're just struggling to get that in to play."
The Reds' Quade Cooper was sent off and faces a possible suspension for a high tackle on Rohan Janse van Rensburg, winger Eto Nabuli was sin-binned and skipper James Slipper and centre Samu Keveri injured in a shattering 44-14 loss to the Lions in Johannesburg.
Slipper was worried he tore a calf muscle or Achilles tendon, while Samu hurt his knee, leaving coach Nick Stiles with a weakened squad ahead of a gruelling trip from Africa to Argentina to tackle the Jaguares next Sunday.
Reds coach Stiles said: "It's a frustrating result, because we prepared well, but the performance just wasn't there.
"We had some good opportunities in the first half, but failed to build any pressure. Once we were shorthanded it was always going to be an incredibly difficult task.
"The Lions were runners up last year for a reason, they're a very good team and they showed that in the second half.
"If there's one positive to take from the match, I was pleased with the effort of the young guys who came on in the second half, they didn't roll over, they had a real crack and will learn from that experience."
Australia's five franchises are now one from 10 against overseas opposition.
The Brumbies are fourth, but face a tough home clash against the Highlanders this week, something that coach Stephen Larkham knows won't be easy.
"We've got the Highlanders next week and they're a very classy team. Coached by Tony Brown, they've got some very good players," he said.
"So that will be a test for us. Much like all New Zealand sides, they've got very good counter attack and turnover attack.
"But they're probably a little bit more set-piece oriented with a good kicking game.
"It's a week-by-week proposition when you come up against New Zealand sides."
The Force also faces a tough trans-Tasman challenge, up against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday night.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.