Brumbies 16 – Western Force 25
It was as if both sides had decided to demonstrate just how much a coup this weeks’ signing of Matt Giteau to the Brumbies was.
As a team, the Force weren’t actually that hot. Yet again three of their four tries came from pieces of Giteau skill as he delivered his trade mark magic pills, none better than the beautifully looped pass in front of the man that put Ryan Cross through two defenders, from which Cameron Shepherd finished the first of his hat-tricks of tries. In addition, Kid Dynamite had the ball on a string with a strong display of tactical kicking. That’s the ‘ying’.
The ‘yang’ was the absolute fucking disaster that was the Brumbies mid-field. Sure, The Force had taken a leaf out of the Crusaders from last week with a rush defence, but what became clear as the game wore on is just how totally out of his depth Christian Lealiifano still is. If there was any backup, he surely would have been yanked out after half time (or even before). He was no threat to the line, threw hospital passes and specialised in kicking out on the full.
Whether it was a knock on effect of the 10’s performance or not, those older and supposedly wiser outside of him also went MIA. Mortlock was flat-footed all night but the worst was Ashley-Cooper, who made missing tackles an art form. Cross passed him in the try described above, Shepherd simply ran around him (see pictorial evidence) and Pelesasa bulldozed him on his way to set up Brown’s try. Rathbone and Fainifo were anonymous. Only Gerrard stepped up, once more Australia’s most composed fullback.
The Brumbies might draw some solace that they absolutely killed the Force’s scrum in the second half, peaking with a penalty try in the 65th minute. While they’d shown superiority throughout, I have a suspicion that this may have had something to do with Force replacement hooker Holmes having crocked his knee the play before (why didn’t he go off?). If not, it’s fucking worrying for the Westerners.
The Force however, won the battle of the back row and breakdown. While not at his best, Brown was dynamic as demonstrated in his controversial try (looked held up to me). Was Hoiles even on the field?
As for the battle at 7 – I thought this was a close one, and intriguing. Smith had his usual good game, but he got caught out trying to do too much, like last week. This time fluffing a try scoring opportunity in the first half with a tricky pass gone wrong. Pocock on the other hand, stuck to his knitting. He made hard yards and I suspect was on the bottom of 9/10 rucks. For me, he shaded it.
So as well as fucking up everyone’s tipping this week, by losing at home the Brumbies sure haven’t helped the chances of Australian teams making the semis. While someone had to lose this game, we suspected it would be the Force with their well publicised frailties. Now what we realise is that Brumbies still have plenty of those as well.
- George Smith (Brumbies) (67%, 34 Votes)
- David Pocock (Force) (33%, 17 Votes)
Some stats for you JC: