Force succumb to Brumbies in Canberra

· Super Rugby - AU
by Rugby WA Media

The Western Force were starved of possession for much of the game but refused to back down as they conceded a spirited 42-14 defeat to defending champions the ACT Brumbies in the Round 6 Super Rugby AU clash at GIO Stadium in Canberra.

Captain Brynard Stander was disappointed with the result. “We allowed the Brumbies to keep the pressure on us which resulted in points. But we can take something out of this game and build on it for our next away game”, he said.

Both teams started strongly with possession evenly shared and some physical exchanges as they each tried to stamp their authority.

The Force suffered an early setback when they lost playmaking flyhalf Jake McIntyre with an injury in the ninth minute. The experienced Jono Lance came on as a replacement.

With thirteen minutes played, the Brumbies began dominating play with their forwards and launched some strong rolling mauls from a series of five-metre lineouts only to be repelled by some fierce and committed Force defence.

Soon after, the Force were reduced to 14 men when Kuridrani was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-down. This paved the way for the Brumbies’ opening try as they exploited the extra man for centre Len Ikitau to run in. Flyhalf Noah Lolesio converted to put the home side 7-0 ahead after 21 minutes.

Force fullback Jack McGregor prevented the Brumbies from extending their lead in the 23rd minute when he put in a try-saving tackle on Brumbies number eight Pete Samu as he stormed towards the line.

Three minutes later, the Brumbies took the ball through several phases to open the way for Ikitau to add a second try. Lolesio kicked the extra points to give his side a 14-point lead.

With the Force continuing to defend resolutely against a constant wave of Brumbies attacks, the hosts added further tries through lock Cadeyrn Neville and wing Andy Muirhead in the 33rd and 39th minutes respectively, which were both converted by Lolesio to give the Brumbies a 28-0 half time lead.

The Force started strongly in the second half, managing to get their hands on the ball early on to open their account in the 52nd minute with a try by centre Henry Taefu. Replacement scrumhalf Ian Prior converted to reduce the deficit to 28-7.

The Brumbies restored their 28-point lead in the 59th minute, scoring a fifth try through reserve hooker Lachlan Lonergan, which was converted by Lolesio to move the score to 35-7 in favour of the Brumbies.

With the Brumbies reduced to 14-men after repeated offences at the breakdown, prop Harry Lloyd was shown a yellow card. The Force took full advantage to add a second try. Prior cheekily dotted down after the Force had recycled a series of rucks on the Brumbies line and he then added the extra points to reduce the deficit at 35-14.

With 10 minutes to play, the Brumbies got themselves back into Force territory, forcing a series of penalties and eventually creating space out wide for Muirhead to add his second try. The score was converted by Ryan Lonergan to give the Brumbies a 42-14 advantage.

Despite a much improved second half showing from the Force, it was not to be in the capital with the match ending 42-14 in favour of the Brumbies.

Head Coach Tim Sampson believes the squad will bounce back after taking on the competition’s top two sides on the road in consecutive weeks.

“We go to Melbourne after the bye and come back to two home games back-to-back. Now it has to be three from three, it’s a bit like finals footy from now on for us. We have to refocus quickly, and we will,” Sampson explained.

Western Force – Tries: Henry Taefu, Ian Prior. Conversions: Prior (2)

Brumbies – Tries: Len Ikitau (2), Cadeyrn Neville, Andy Muirhead (2), Lachlan Lonergan. Conversions: Noah Lolesio (5), Ryan Lonergan (1).