ACT Brumbies vs Western Force Super 14 preview
ACT Brumbies

Brumbies: the Real Force.

Brumbies: the Real Force.

The ‘Super Star’ CA Brumbies take on the Western Force on Friday night at the new home ground of the Force, ME Bank Stadium, in what is shaping as an blockbuster match to start their respective 2010 Super 14 seasons. The return of Matt Giteau and Josh Valentine to their former stomping ground has lost some of the excitement due to Giteau’s quadricep injury, which will more than likely rule him out.

The Brumbies off season recruits have been well documented and most experts are tipping them to come close in winning the Super 14 in 2010, which would mean finals action for the first time since the Brumbies won the title in 2004. However, injuries to star recruits Rocky Elsom, Matt Giteau and a hand injury suffered by Ben Alexander have limited the teams time together on the training paddock, so instant success may not occur as easily as most expect.

Matt Toomua will replace Giteau in the flyhalf role and the Brumbies are confident there will be no problems with him filling in. A stint with the Stormers in the 2009 Currie Cup and a starting spot, albeit brief, on the Wallabies Spring tour has given Toomua every confidence he can get the job done.
The Force are coming off a last start win in their trial match over Queensland which will give them some confidence after losing their marquee signing Andre Pretorius to a season ending hamstring injury. Pretorius was seen as a signing to give the Force back line some stability and an experienced head after losing Giteau. This responsibility has now been given to Mark Bartholomeusz, a former Brumby who was been plying his trade in Europe since 2004. His insight to the workings of the Brumbies may prove helpful in shutting down the Brumbies.

Nic Henderson may be another to share some secrets about the Brumbies forwards, who will need to improve after a woeful display in their final trial against NSW last week where the scrum and lineout were dominated. Matt Dunning will be looking to rejuvenate his career after moving across from NSW where his playing time was limited behind Been Robinson and Al Baxter.

KEY MATCH UPS:
David Pocock v George Smith
A mouthwatering clash between the master and his apprentice. George Smith last week surprisingly announced he is breaking his contract with the Brumbies and ARU which means Pocock has an unobstructed path to making the Wallaby number 7 his own, but he will still have to step up against one of the best ruck burglars.

James O’Connor v Adam Ashley-Cooper
The incumbent Wallabies fullback against the boy of the future. James O’Connor, who was another Brumbies off season target, will need to have a strong game to further his credentials as he comes up against current Wallabies fullback. Both players are trying to nail down a permanent position in the Wallabies back line
and rid themselves of the dreaded ‘utility’ tag, which has been the undoing of many a career. Ashley-Cooper had a strong trial against the Waratahs last week by scoring a try and will be looking to continue that form.

Nathan Sharpe v Mark Chisholm
The Force captain will run out for his 50th Cap as a Force player with plenty to prove after missing the Spring tour through a shoulder injury. His presence in the line out will give the Force an attacking platform. Chisholm will be looking to further cement his place in the Wallabies pack after getting a second chance under Robbie Deans on the Spring tour.

Western Force:
15 James O’Connor, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Sam Harris, 11 Cameron Shepherd, 10 Mark Bartholomeusz, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Matt Hodgson, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Matt Dunning, 2 Pek Cowan, 1 Nic Henderson. Reserves: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Tim Fairbrother, 18 Richard Stanford, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 Chris O’Young, 21 Mitchell Inman, 22 Josh Tatupu.

Brumbies: (Likely)
15 Adam Ashley-Cooper; 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Francis Fainifo; 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Josh Valentine; 8 Stephen Hoiles, 7 George Smith, 6 Rocky Elsom; 5 Justin Harrison, 4 Mark Chisholm; 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander. Reserves: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Salesi Maafu, 18 Ben Hand, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Tyrone Smith, 22 Alfi Mafi

Kick off 7:05 WST 10:05 EDST Live Fox 3 (Australia)
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia) (Groan)
Assistant referees: Nathan Pearce (Australia), Julian Pritchard (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)

Betting: Force $3.24 Brumbies $1.35

  • Robson

    I would like to have seen reports of the Brumbies making a more emphatic start in their warm up match against NSW. But the woes that have been chronicled are not good portents against the Force whose pack will have been well and truly under the hammer from John Mitchell.

    O’Connor v AAC at fullback will be interesting and Mat Toomua is a good choice for stand off. I would like to see Stirling on the charge against Cross. But the game will be won or lost in the forwards and it seems that the Brumbies have got a bit of work to do there.

    I think there is a distinct possibility of seeing the Brumbies not front with the kind of form that wins S14 titles.
    But I’m happy to be wrong.

    Force by 9 still.

  • ash

    I have a feeling that the Force has erred greatly in not having J’OC at 12, and instead playing the pedastrian Harris. I think the lack of spark ion the midfield will hurt the Force. Also surprised that Henderson got the nod over Fairbrother – it appears that he trains well and is rated for his leadership, rather than what he has produced in the S14 for the Brumbies. I think it will be a narrow win to the Brumbies.

    • Bobas

      agreed, the force had a shot with Shep in 15 and JOC in 12.

      Now its just going to be a good old fashion arse raping. Brumby style

    • todd4

      I also agree that JOC should play 12, but with Cummins and Sare injured they dont have a lot of depth and experience in the back three, by JOC playing 15 it frees up Shep to cover one of the wings. Cummins is due back from injury after their bye in round four and I think we will then see Shep to 15 and JOC to 12….

  • Juan Cote

    Gits has been ruled out

  • Pedro

    Looking forward to seeing Toomua, I hope he really nails it, forcing Friend to consider Gits at 12. Lialiifano is also a solid choice at 10 and with tsmith a great 12 those inside back positions look good long term.

    Without Alexander I would favour the force but with a decent scrum the brums will excersize their dominance everywhere else.

    Brumbies by 10

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