Vodacom Super 14

Shepherd stars in Force win

2009-02-28 12:46
Cameron Shepherd (Gallo Images)
Canberra - Cameron Shepherd registered the season’s first hat-trick of tries to help the Force to a crucial 25-16 away victory over the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.

The big left-wing was on the end of three superb passing movements with No8 Richard Brown also going over to also give the Force the bonus point.

The Brumbies had escaped with narrow victories in their first two games, including beating the Crusaders, but an uncharacteristic sluggishness crept into their game in this match and they were unable to take full advantage of their superiority in the set-pieces – especially at scrum time.

After Mark Gerrard had kicked a pair of penalties to give the Brumbies a 6-0 lead but Shepherd’s first try in the 27th minute was a gem and signalled that the men from Perth were determined to live up to their name.

Inevitably it was Matt Giteau who sparked the Force’s march to victory as he cleverly drew the Brumbies centres before sending a long flat pass spinning to Ryan Cross who had drifted wide to get outside the defenders and the centre made the scoring pass to Shepherd flying on the outside.

Gerrard landed his third penalty to extend the Brumbies’s lead to 9-5 but Giteau got one too right on the stroke of halftime to pull it back to one point again.

However it was the Force who struck the decisive blow three minutes after the re-start as Cross managed to leap and knock back an up-and-under by Giteau, enabling the Force to gain control of the ball and quick hands by Cowan, Sharp and Giteau gave Shepherd his second touch-down.

Giteau, who had an off-day with the boot and missed four out of six goal-kicks, was unable to add the extra points but taking the lead for the first time (13-9) seemed to lift the Force.

With loose forwards Matt Hodgson, David Pocock and Richard Brown proving to be a handful to the Brumbies the momentum was with the Western Australians and they struck a telling blow with their third try in the 49th minute thanks to a marauding run by Junior Pelesasa.

The stocky centre broke strongly up the middle and beat four attempted tackles before unloading to Brown supporting on his shoulder. Francis Fainifo made a valiant attempt to prevent Brown from getting the ball down but referral to the TMO confirmed that a try had been scored.

Giteau got this conversion to put the Force 20-9 in front; providing a vital cushion of points to withstand the inevitable rearguard action from the Brumbies.

The Brumbies lacked rhythm and accuracy when trying to move the ball but there was nothing wrong with their scrum and they put this ascendancy to work to get their only try of the game.

A succession of powerful shoves had the Force in trouble on their own line and when their frontrow pulled up and back a third time referee Matt Goddard trotted to the posts to award a penalty try.

Gerrard’s conversion made it 16-20 with 15 minutes left on the clock.

However this time the Brumbies were unable to bring to bear their usual unremitting phases and it was the Force who produced the play that gave them the spoils of victory.

Giteau was again involved as he back-flipped the ball up to Cowan as he was going down in the tackle enabling the prop to trundle forward and set a quick ruck before the ball was moved to the left. Drew Mitchell, up from fullback, drew the defenders and then beat them with the pass to send Shepherd in for his hat-trick.

The try put the Force nine points in the clear and Giteau made sure it stayed that way to the end with some excellent tactical kicking.


Brumbies - Try: Penalty Try. Conversions: Stirling Mortlock. Penalty Conversions: Mark Gerrard (3).

Force - Tries: Cameron Sheppard (3), Richard Brown. Conversion: Matt Giteau. Penalty Conversions: Matt Giteau.


15. Mark Gerrard, 14. Clyde Rathbone, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Stirling Mortlock, 11. Francis Fainifo, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Patrick Phibbs, 8. Stephen Hoiles (Captain), 7. George Smith, 6. Julian Salvi, 5. Mark Chisholm, 4. Ben Hand, 3. Guy Shepherdson, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Nic Henderson

Replacements: 16. John Ulugia, 17. Ben Alexander, 18. Sitaleki Timani, 19. Peter Kimlin, 20. Joshua Holmes, 21. Matt Toomua, 22. Tyrone Smith

Western Force:

15. Drew Mitchell, 14. Cameron Shepherd, 13. Ryan Cross, 12. Junior Pelesasa, 11. Nick Cummins, 10. Matt Giteau, 9. Josh Valentine, 8. Richard Brown, 7. David Pocock, 6. Matthew Hodgson, 5. Nathan Sharpe (Captain), 4. Tom Hockings, 3. Ben Castle, 2. Tai Mcisaac, 1. Pekahou Cowan

Replacements: 16. Luke Holmes, 17. Kieran Longbottom, 18. Richard Stanford, 19. Tamaiti Horua, 20. Chris O`Young, 21. James O`Connor, 22. Haig Sare, 23. Josh Tatupu


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