The Force were letting themselves down with inaccuracies. They established good field position and had the throw-in, but it was called ‘not straight’. They again established good field position with good, determined attacking play – with Cummins well to the fore – and inaccurate passing let them down.
The Brumbies’ next try, to Henry Speight, also told a story about accuracy – again in positional play in support. If the support player maintains his depth off the ball-carrier, he gives a big target for the pass. Conversely, if he gets flat, the target becomes too small and too difficult for a passer under pressure. After great work by Kimlin, White and the Holmes continued. Holmes’s ‘Hail Mary’ pass under pressure was easily accepted by Speight for his try.
Again a second-half revival, this time for the Force. They looked much more positive and ambitious and were prepared to have a go”with the ball in hand. Well done in the break by Phil Blake! Cummins did excellently – I thought that he was a bit unlucky to miss the Wallabies squad a few weeks back – for two tries and Mafi showed the way in carrying from the back. A very well-executed, driving maul (they rebuilt it three times) gave the Force their third try for a 17 to 25 scoreline and a few Brumbies heart flutters. Well done the Force!
Good leadership soon got things right again for the Brumbies and their dominant scrum closed out the game. Well done Ben Mowen; his captaincy has been a clear factor in the Brumbies success.
The Brumbies front row were again very good. I thought that Alexander was better in the tight/loose – he played a lot closer to the ball! Kimlin was again a big contributor and should soon be rated more highly. I like Fardy; in fact, I think that I would give him a go at No. 6 at a higher level – at least in a midweek your game. He could play, I think like a fair dinkum (Kiwi) No. 6! (Regular readers will know why I’m looking for one.) Interestingly, one of the Brumbies coaching staff told me last week,that Fardy leads the Brumbies stats for steals – and he took two more in this match!
McCabe and Smith were good and both continue to grow – albeit from different starting points. We need some big, strong, fast guys around the No. 13 spot. Cummins and Smith would be well worth an investment, I reckon.
POSTSCRIPT. If anyone wanted a demonstration of the value of attention to the fundamentals of the game, they could take a look at the two halves of Aaron Smith’s performance last weekend. I gave him some considerable praise for his All Blacks performances recently, but his first half for the Highlanders was dreadful. He constantly lifted the ball and took a step and a backswing for his clearing pass. Consequently, he squandered at least four hard-earned possessions for his team. After the break – and, no doubt, a few well-chosen words from Jamie Joseph and/or Simon Culhane – he was back to his smooth, precise delivery. Well done coaches!