In their last home game of the season, the Force went down convincingly to Brumbies at NIB Stadium
Out-muscled, out-thought and outclassed — that was the story of the Force tonight. In a display that for about fifty to sixty minutes of the game showed why they top the Australian conference, the Brumbies took a valuable bonus point win away from Perth.
In the first quarter of the game they utterly outplayed the Force, who came out of the blocks sluggishly. The Brumbies clearly meant business in that first part of the game and set about establishing their supremacy early. They were hard in the collisions, direct in attack and treasured the ball. Through sheer weight of possession and accuracy with ball in hand they put two tries on in eleven minutes and then followed up with two more before half time. The Force were frankly in disarray and the Brumbies seemed to be coming at them from all angles, but the thing that will disappoint them the most I think will be how easily the visitors burst through them in the middle of the park. There were several times when the big Brumbies forwards hit the line hard and not only bent it, but outright broke through it.
It’s not often this season that we’ve seen the Force pack steamrolled, but well beaten they were in the tough stuff. It’s been something they’ve been able to hang their hat on, even with how poor the results have sometimes been, that the pack have been strong in the set pieces and at the breakdown. Not tonight. We knew what the Brumbies would do before the game, but sometimes the best thing to do is to come up with a consistent game plan, stick to it and bank on the opposition not being able to live with it. That’s what the men from Canberra did in this game.
What they won’t be happy with, however, is how badly they took their foot off the gas in the second half. Now granted, they had a bonus point locked up before half time, but they are going to want to be more ruthless in the coming weeks if they are to make a dent in the finals. Better teams will punish them if there is any let up in their intensity. With that said, if Zack Holmes had found the radar with the boot in the first half the game would have been well out of sight.
The Force actually managed to get their hands on the pill a bit more in the early part of the second half and then strung together some phases. There was a markedly different mindset on display and they were able to put on a couple of tries (both to Nick Cummins) fairly rapidly. At this point the game got a bit interesting. Holmes kicked a penalty to keep them at arm’s length, but then Toby Lynn scored another Force try, this time from a driving maul close to the line. I don’t think the result was ever seriously in doubt, but the Brumbies were made to work harder than they should have been for that result in the end.
It all got a bit messy in the last ten or so minutes and it was pretty much just the downhill slide towards full time. It was a bit of a relief when Ian Smith blew his whistle.
Brumbies 28 (Mogg, Alexnader, Holmes and Speight tries; Holmes conv; Holmes 2 pens) beat Force 17 (Cummins 2, Lynn tries; Harvey conv)
Ref: Ian Smith
Matt Hodgson was off the field fairly early in the piece and I’m not sure what the injury was. There weren’t a lot of other injuries to speak of.
The first two minutes of the game. The Brumbies came roaring out of the gate and had a try on the board before most of us had time to blow the froth off our first beer. It set the tone for the entire first half and before you knew it, the game was almost beyond reach for the home team.
It’s a bit hard to decide, this one. I feel it needs to go to one of the Brumbies forwards, as they set the standard and laid the foundation for their win. Of particular note were the performances of Stephen Moore and Peter Kimlin. Both did a power of work in the loose and consistently got over the gain line and set up their support runners very well. Given that the Brumbies scrum was also dominant, I’ll give the gong to Moore this week.
The Talking Point
It’s all about Sharpie this week. It’s a real shame that the Force didn’t turn on a better performance for him in his last home game. He clearly deserved better for mine. For all of his efforts on and off the paddock for the team over the life of the franchise he deserves the most fulsome of praise. I just wish he’d been able to taste more success during his tenure. There was a lot of love in the place for him tonight. The guys in the shed were chanting his name as the full time whistle went. That was fitting, I think.