Stephen Larkham says ACT Brumbies' penalties are part of the plan

The ACT Brumbies will persist with their helter skelter breakdown mentality despite conceding almost double the amount of penalties the NSW Waratahs did and having two players sent to the sin bin on Saturday night.

But coach Stephen Larkham says the Brumbies have to make smarter decisions and skipper Ben Mowen is adamant the team has to improve its discipline.

The Brumbies held on to beat the Waratahs 28-23 on Saturday night.

But they almost paid a heavy price for constantly challenging at the ruck in the last 20 minutes, losing Matt Toomua and Ruan Smith to the sin bin as referee Jaco Peyper got fed up with repeated team infringements.

The Brumbies have a fierce approach to the breakdown to ensure they constantly challenge opposition possession.

It cost them 15 penalties compared to the Waratahs' 9, but Larkham declared "we're not trying to cheat".

"We always talk about making smart decisions and we don't go into the breakdown to kill the ball, we're not like other teams," Larkham said.

"When we get inside our 22 metres, we don't kill the ball. We expect to make smart decisions as to whether they can go and get a turnover. If not, we don't want them in there.

"If they see the opposition is vulnerable, they go for it. [Toomua's] penalty where he didn't roll away, we need to get that out of our game. But we still need to challenge the contest.

"We're not trying to cheat or slow the ball down. We're trying to make a genuine contest – teams need to understand that and I'd like to think the referees understand the Brumbies' style is to contest everything."

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said the Brumbies were "living on the edge" of the rules at the breakdown in the clash.

The Brumbies were under the pump in the second half as the Waratahs tried to launch a comeback.

Toomua and Smith paid the price for team ill discipline, and Mowen admitted it was an area the Brumbies needed to work on.

"We're disappointed in that, discipline goes hand in hand with the way we want to play," Mowen said.

"We don't want teams to get attacking opportunities for free, but we want to be extremely disciplined in the way we do that.

"There was a great desire and a work ethic to defend with 14 men for 20 minutes, but you can't do that every week.

"To hold the Waratahs to nine points for 60 minutes speaks a lot about the desire and character in the team. We want to be workers who don't talk about things, we just get out there and do it."

The Brumbies' front row was outstanding against NSW, demolishing the Waratahs scrum on numerous occasions to keep the Brumbies out of trouble.

Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher said the team had to regroup quickly to play the Cape Town Stormers on Saturday.

"[The Stormers] will want to get points out of their Australiasian tour so they will be coming here hard and hungry," Fisher said.

"We showed a lot of character [against NSW] and that's what this side has been built on over the past 2½ years."

The story Stephen Larkham says ACT Brumbies' penalties are part of the plan first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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