The Western Force were unable to breach a well-organised Brumbies defence on Saturday night as the team went down 0-24 in a competitive Super Rugby AU clash at Leichhardt Oval in NSW.
The Force responded well after conceding two early tries and remained in the contest throughout.
They showed enterprise in attack and discipline on defence but were unable to create the important line breaks to get themselves on the scoresheet.
The Brumbies made a rampant start, using a strong counter-attacking game to catch the Force off guard and run in two 70-metre tries within the first six minutes. The first was scored by wing Tom Wright who went over in the corner after the Brumbies had won a scrum inside their 22 and swept across the length of the field. Minutes later, they repeated the feat, turning over possession in their 22 and showing strong handling and composure for centre Irae Simone to complete the move. Flyhalf Bayley Kuenzle converted one of the tries to move the score to 12-0.
It was always going to be an uphill climb from there but the Force responded positively to mount several promising forays into the Brumbies half, forcing them into conceding a number of penalties within striking distance. Opting to kick for touch instead of going for the three points, the Force were unable to press home a territorial and possession advantage as the Brumbies effectively repelled a succession of lineout drives.
The Brumbies started the second half as they had the first. With less than two minutes played they won a 50/22 from a kick by centre Simone and moved the ball wide from the lineout for flank Will Miller to slide over in the corner. Kuenzle added the conversion to extend the lead to 19-0.
The Brumbies scored their fourth try in the 67th minute when replacement hooker Connal McInerney drove over from a rolling maul after the Brumbies had won a lineout ball five metres out. The score followed a frantic passage of play in which the Brumbies had mounted a barrage of attacks at the Force line only to be met with fierce and aggressive team defence. Kuenzle’s conversion was missed, keeping the score at 24-0.
The Brumbies’ depth was evident in the closing stages as they controlled the ball and put the Force under pressure in the scrums. The Force, meanwhile, showed a keenness to attack but lost the ball in contact during their effort to advance on the Brumbies line.
Despite the disappointment, the Force have many positives to take from the game. All Black veteran Richard Kahui, who joined the squad this week got his first run, showing his class with some deft touches in the closing stages. Wallaby centre Kyle Godwin and hooker Andrew Ready were again impressive coming off the bench.
The Force will take on the Melbourne Rebels at Leichhardt Oval, NSW, Friday night at our second Vodafone Super Rugby AU home game. Kick-off at 5.05pm AWST.
Tries: Wright, Simone, Miller, McInerney
Cons: Kuenzle (3)