The Brumbies and Force headed into the final game of the regular season knowing that a win would get them into the finals. The Brumbies had a poor record in recent years in the final game of the season and would have memories of last years return fixture in Perth.
The Brumbies have secured their place in the finals with a 47-25 win over the Force in Canberra. The Brumbies scored seven tries to three in the winner takes all game. Matt Toomua scored a hat trick and starred in the win and had a decent support cast.
The Force took advantage of the Brumbies knocking on from the kick off and were immediately on the front foot and attempted to use their forwards to make small gains. They were patient after numerous phases but a steal from the Brumbies had them off the hook and went straight down the other end.
It took less than ten minutes for the Brumbies to open the scoring with Matt Toomua the first to trouble the scorer with a move that started with a lineout on halfway and used the width of the field in the leadup.
The Force had a chance to get on the board shortly after but Jayden Hayward’s attempt at penalty goal into the wind was wide.
The Brumbies extended their lead to 8 on the 15 minute mark after a Christian Lealiifano penalty from in front after the Force defensive lead were bit too eager to close down the Brumbies.
The visitors got on the board shortly after with Hayward’s penalty after a Force player was tackled early after a half break near the Brumbies 22.
Both teams engaged in some forcings back with neither team prepared to chance their arm after the opening exchanges with the Force able to score a second penalty to Hayward to make it 8-6.
Lealiifano responded with his second penalty of the night and that was followed with Matt Toomua’s second try of the night after great work from Sam Carter. The Brumbies were able to isolate the Force forwards in their backline and Toomua strolled over untouched to make it 16-6.
The Brumbies were starting to play with confidence and found gaps in the Force defensive line and had scored their third try five minutes before half time. Ben Alexander found himself with an overlap and offloaded to Clyde Rathbone who himself found Jesse Mogg to score. Lealiifano’s kicking woes continued as he missed his fourth kick of the night to leave the score at 21-6.
The second half started with the Brumbies hot on attack in the Force 22 and went through 16 phases before the Force turned the ball over on their own line. From the resulting lineout, the Brumbies had a penalty advantage that the backs used to full effect with Henry Speight slicing through the Force defence to score the bonus point try. Lealiifano’s first conversion of the night made it 28-6.
The Force had made a change at half time with Alby Mathewson coming on and his presence was felt immediately. The Force were finally getting on the front foot with the forwards leading the way and with the Brumbies infringing multiple times in their own 22, the Force finally crossed the line with Pek Cowan coming up with the points.
Referee Steve Walsh sent Jarrad Butler to the bin after those infringements although he could have chosen one of many.
The Brumbies were down to 14 men, but it didn’t seem to worry them as they hit back with Matt Toomua securing the first hat trick to a Brumbies player since Mark Gerrard in the 2004 final.
With their season slowly slipping away, the Force started to show what they could do and managed their second try of the night after the TMO had a look and eventually gave Chris Tuatara-Morrison the nod and give the Force some hope with 15 minutes to go.
It looked like it would end there for the Force with Brumbies replacement Joe Tomane swooping on a dropped pass and he ran 40 metres untouched for the sixth Brumbies try of the night.
But there was life in the Force yet as they chased bonus points to keep their finals dream alive. Zack Holmes had the third try for the Force with seven minutes to go and Sias Ebersohn’s conversion via the post made it 42-25.
The Brumbies put the game to rest with a rolling maul try from replacement Tom McVerry scoring his first ever Super Rugby try for the seventh Brumbies try of the night to make the score 47-25.
There would be one last charge from the Force to secure their fourth try of the night but Steve Walsh ruled it held up and deny the Force a chance of hanging on to make their debut finals appearance whilst the Brumbies secured their place in the top 6.
The Game Changer
The Brumbies fourth try early in the second half sparked the Force into action as they chased the game but the Brumbies were always at arms length.
September can’t come early enough for Henry Speight to be in the green and gold.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Toomua 3, Mogg, Speight, Tomane, McVerry
Conversions: Lealiifano 3
Penalties: Lealiifano 2
Tries: Cowan, Tuatara-Morrison, Holmes
Conversions: Hayward, Ebersohn
Penalties: Hayward 2
54 – Jarrad Butler (Brumbies) – Yellow