Perth - The Brumbies rocked the Force with four first-half tries before clinging on for a 28-17 victory
on Saturday to move back ahead of the Reds in the race for
the Australian Super Rugby conference title.
The Reds had pulled
level with the Brumbies with a win in Melbourne on Friday but the
Canberra-based side secured the all-important bonus point before
halftime and held off a spirited Force fightback in the second period.
The Force had been hoping to give lock Wallabies Nathan Sharpe a
winning farewell in his final home match before retirement but a brace
of tries from winger Nick Cummins and another from lock Toby Lynn proved
too little, too late.
"I thought the way we played in the first
half is what we're capable of and we've just got to make sure we do it
more often," Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen said in a pitchside interview.
"We take away five points from Perth, which is not easy to do, and we move on to the next one."
Brumbies wing Jesse Mogg opened the scoring after only two minutes,
fending off Force skipper David Pocock and rounding the last defender to
score in the corner.
Prop Ben Alexander was the next to cross
nine minutes later when he bulldozed through the Force defence and when
flyhalf Zack Holmes converted the Brumbies were 12-0 ahead.
Pocock's customary fine work at the breakdown stymied a couple of
Brumbies attacks but winger Henry Speight dived across the line in the
29th minute and Holmes added the fourth after cutting through the home
defence with a neat sidestep.
The Force came out firing after
turning around 22-0 down and started to throw the ball around to great
effect with Cummins finishing well for tries in the same corner in the
43rd and 51st minutes.
Holmes notched his first penalty after 56
minutes but the Force were not done yet and Lynn forced his way over
after a textbook catch and drive from a line-out with 12 minutes
All the momentum and most of the possession was with
the Force in the last quarter and the visitors breathed a sigh of relief
when Holmes slotted his second penalty in the 72nd minute to stretch
the lead to 11 points.
"It's a bit disappointing to send Sharpie
off with this result," said Pocock. "But I'm proud of the resolve we
showed in the second half."
The Brumbies make the
comparatively short trip to Sydney to face the Waratahs
next weekend before their final regular season match at home to the Blues. Teams:Force:
15 Alfie Mafi, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Will Tupou, 12 Rory Sidey, 11
Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Ben Seymour, 9 Josh Holmes, 8 Matt Hodgson, 7 David
Pocock (captain), 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Toby Lynn, 3
Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan
16 Elvis Taione, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Salesi Manu, 19 Phoenix Battye,
20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 David HarveyBrumbies:
15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11
Jesse Mogg, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7
Michael Hooper, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Dan
Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Leon Power, 19 Ita Vaea, 20
Ian Prior, 21 Tevita Kuridrani, 22 Cam Crawford.