The Brumbies and Force faced off in Canberra with the Force welcoming back Nick Cummins to Australian Rugby and the fans weren’t disappointed as he bagged some meat on his return. But it wasn’t enough as the Brumbies took out the win with a hard fought 27-15 win and securing a bonus point in the process.
The Brumbies started the game with all the ball putting the Force on the back foot right from the beginning. They could have settled the nerves by taking shots at goal on the back of a number of penalties in the Force 22 but turned those chances down in the hope of using their rolling maul from the lineout.
The visitors managed to keep them out on that occasion but they could only hold the Brumbies out until the seventh minute when big lock Rory Arnold reached over to open the scoring. Christian Lealiifano added the extras to make it 7-0.
The Force finally managed to get their hands on the ball and a sight that Australian rugby fans hoped to see saw Nick Cummins get the nod from the TMO in the left corner before his elbow hit the sideline.
But that only seemed to stir up the hosts and hit back almost immediately. The Brumbies were using the width of the field and after the forwards made the metres, Lealiifano sent Joe Tomane on his way to the try line down the left wing. Lealiifano was not able to add the extras after Force winger Marcel Brache managed to charge his attempt down.
The Force looked much better than last weeks match and started to use their backline with some switch passes to try and get through the Brumbies defensive line with Junior Rasolea getting his hands on the ball a few times in phase play in an attempt to spark something.
The home side were able to weather the storm and had scored their third try of the half. Prop Ben Alexander scored from close rang after a great run from Henry Speight down the right wing in the leadup and was brought down just short of the line.
Just on half time, the Force added a long range penalty goal from Holmes to leave it at 19-8 at the break.
The second half started with the Brumbies with their hands on the ball and they secured their four try bonus point after just nine minutes after once again using the rolling maul on the back of a lineout in the Force 22. A grubber kick from the Brumbies had the Force on the backfoot and left Brache with little option except to kick the ball into touch.
The Force could have tried to limit the damage but showed promise and hit back themselves. Their forwards worked hard near the Brumbies line and Steve Mafi ended up with a try from close range. Holmes added the extras to leave the margin at nine with just over 20 minutes remaining.
The Brumbies added a penalty goal following a scything run from Brumbies fullback Robbie Coleman after the Force were put under pressure at the back of scrum.
The Force went close again to scoring after Steve Mafi found himself in open space. James Dargaville had only just come onto the field and provided enough of a speed bump to slow him down to give the scrambling defence time to reset.
They looked the better team heading into the final 15 minutes with the majority of possession in the Brumbies half.
Zack Holmes made one good run that ended up giving his side a scrum in the Brumbies 22 and from that they received a penalty and had plenty of chances to cross the line but the Brumbies defence held tough and pushed Holmes over the sideline to relieve the pressure.
But there was still more to come with the Force managing to steal the lineout but dropped the ball on attack as both sides struggled to keep their hands on the ball in the last five minutes but the Brumbies ultimately hung on the for the win.
The Game Changer
The Brumbies had their fourth try early in the second half and seemed to shut up shop but the Force kept coming to give them a sniff of a win but came up just short.
The G&GR MOTM
Ita Vaea – It’s good to see him back in the game after his health problems and is looking good at the back of the scrum and getting though plenty of work.
Nick Cummins was back with a bit of meat.
Scott Sio put in a good shift amongst a strong pack.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Arnold, Tomane, Alexander, White
Conversions: Lealiifano 2
Tries: Cummins, Mafi
Photos courtesy www.mtphoto.com.au