The Brumbies have put the disappointment of the loss to Queensland two weeks ago and convincingly put away the Western Force 42-14 in Canberra tonight.
Doubles to winger Andy Muirhead and Len Ikitau led the Brumbies to a bonus point win that was all but sewn up at half time as they held a 28-0 lead.
The home side didn’t have it all their own way as the Force matched the Brumbies for the opening 20 minutes before the floodgates opened in the six tries to two win.
With a number of new faces in the Brumbies side following injuries and suspension, it could have been a bit of a danger game but the final score proved otherwise.
It was a fairly cagey opening from both sides as they tried to assert early dominance and the Force could claim an early win as they made Brumbies employ the tactic of grubbers in behind the Force defence to try and turn them around.
The Force also benefitted from a misfiring Brumbies lineout and it seemed they had worked on maul defence during the week as wave after wave of rolling mauls came their way but some strong defence kept the Brumbies at bay.
Despite all that good work they lost Jake McIntyre to a hamstring injury inside the opening ten minutes to bring a backline reshuffle with Jonno Lance taking his place.
Folau Fainga’a went very close to scoring after 17 minutes but was knocked back by the TMO although it looked like the ball may have scraped the line before Fainga’a was pushed back in the tackle.
While their maul defence was strong, the Force backline defence was letting them down to see a warning come their way from Nic Berry and it was not the return to Canberra Tevita Kuridrani would have wanted as he copped a yellow card for knocking the ball down.
The weight of possession was too much for the Force to defend and eventually Len Ikitau scored the opening try and send a reminder to Dave Rennie before a Wallabies training squad is named shortly.
They almost went back-to-back as Pete Samu ran a great line down the left wing but a brilliant try saving tackle from Jack McGregor saved the Force.
The extra man was proving too much for the Force to contain as the Brumbies started to find their feet and Ikitau had his second as they punished the Force for Kuridrani’s yellow card with 14 points while he was in the bin.
The Brumbies were starting to get well on top from this point as they set up camp in the Force half and stifle the attack of the Force and the visitors would add to their injury toll with Greg Holmes copping a rib injury.
The tight work in close from the Brumbies led to their next try as Cadeyrn Neville got his name on the list to pile more pressure on the Force who hadn’t even ventured into the Brumbies 22.
Just before the break the home side had their fourth try of the half to Andy Muirhead off a nice backline move to make it 28-0 as they dominated the half with 67% possession and 84% territory.
The Force came out looking much better early in the second half and almost had their first points of the game but Kuridrani was held up as they found rare time in the Brumbies 22.
On the back of a number of penalties, the Force attempted to give the Brumbies a dose of their own medicine with a rolling maul but they would finally crack the line with Henry Taefu getting over after a big carry again from Kuridrani.
But the Brumbies wouldn’t take long to hit back as their backs seemed to be having a field day with their handling down the right wing to put the Force back under pressure. A botched lineout allowed the Brumbies back on attack and replacement hooker Lachlan Lonergan was next on the board as he eventually grounded the ball after a look from the TMO.
With the Brumbies ringing the changes seeing a debuts for new prop Fred Kaihea, the Force started to find ground through the middle with Tim Anstee and Tomas Lezana with big carries.
A yellow card to Brumbies prop Harry Lloyd for repeated infringements had the Force on attack and a sneaky Ian Prior found the line to make it 35-14 with 15 minutes remaining.
With ten minutes to go, a high tackle from Kuridrani allowed the Brumbies to launch their maul before they unleashed the backs in acres of space and Muirhead had his second of the night. Ryan Lonergan continued the 100% kicking rate to make it 42-14 in the end and make it 11 straight wins over the Force.
The Game Changer
The Force were right in the fight for the first 20 or so minutes. Then they were very much out of it after the Kuridrani yellow card.
The G&GR MOTM
Plenty to like from the Brumbies tonight but Len Ikitau gets the nod with 2 tries and is getting better each game and gaining plenty of confidence as he came up against Tevita Kuridrani tonight.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Muirhead 2, Ikitau 2, Neville, L. Lonergan
Conversions: Lolesio 5, R Lonergan
Tries: Taefu, Prior
Conversions: Prior 2
18 mins – Kuridrani (Force) – Yellow
64 mins – Lloyd (Brumbies) – Yellow