The Brumbies have limped their way into the finals with a scratchy 24-10 win over the Force in Canberra.
The Force showed they wouldn’t roll over easily in the last game of the season but couldn’t take advantage of their early dominance to finish a disappointing 2016 season.
There wasn’t much to keep the crowd excited about in the opening 15 minutes with the Brumbies off to their usual slow start with the Force getting the better of the territory and possession but couldn’t come away with anything on the scoreboard for their dominance.
The crowd did spring into life when it looked like Matt Toomua had scored after some great hands from Tomas Cubelli but the TMO ruled no conclusive grounding. The Brumbies tried to flex their muscle from a five metre scrum but only came away with a penalty goal to Christian Lealiifano for a 3-0 lead.
With the forwards heavily involved and the game in a bit of a grind, it was new Wallaby Rory Arnold who found open space and he went for a gallop down field into the Force half and Toomua wouldn’t be denied for the opening try.
The Force opened their scoring with a penalty goal to Ian Prior on 30 minutes and then they levelled after Ben Tapuai swooped on an errant grubber kick from Aidan Toua and Tapuai ran 60 metres untouched to the line.
The game started to open up towards the end of the half with Tevita Kuridrani held up with Dane Haylett-Petty putting in another try saver but from the resulting series of scrums, referee Paul Williams awarded the Brumbies a penalty try with the Force back pedalling to make it 17-10.
The Force looked to have hit back just before the break with a kick from Dane Haylett-Petty finding open space and Kyle Godwin came up with the ball for what looked like the second FOrce try. But as the conversion was being lined up, the TMO had a look and ruled Godwin was offside by the barest of margins.
The Brumbies then added to their misery with a converted try to Kuridrani after the half time siren to make it 24-10 when it could have been level at 17-17.
The second half never reached any great excitement with a fairly dour affair with the Brumbies starting to substitute their players with an eye to next weeks match against the Highlanders.
The Force looked close to scoring after a line break deep into the Brumbies half but couldn’t take advantage of an overlap after initially trying to charge their way through from close range.
Aidan Toua had one moment with a line break and chip kick but had little support to finish off that move.
He made another break with the game almost done and a cross field kick from Toomua almost lead to a try but Lausii Taliauli couldn’t get his hands on the ball in goal and the score remained at 24-10.
The Game Changer
The Force no try right before the break which would have made it 17-17 was then quickly made 24-10 with a Kuridrani try right on half time.
The G&GR MOTM
Rory Arnold – A strong game and involved in plenty in his time on the field. A line break and strong work at the lineout. Aidan Toua a close second.
Not a game Cheika will keep on the IQ but the Brumbies contingent put in a decent game with Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani looking good at times.
Dane Haylett-Petty put in a good kicking display for the Force in a beaten side.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Toomua, Penalty try, Kuridrani
Conversions: Lealiifano 2, Toomua