Western Force shock Brumbies in Perth
July 13, 2013
Salesi Ma'afu spilled blood for the Force cause
© Getty Images
The Brumbies were given a major reality check heading into the Super Rugby play-offs, suffering a shock 21-15 defeat against Western Force at nib Stadium in Perth on Saturday. The Force scored three tries to two to secure their fourth win of the season, the result scuppering any chance the Brumbies had of snaring second spot on the table and a home semi-final.
The Brumbies still finished the regular season atop the Australian conference and third overall, meaning they'll take on the Cheetahs in an elimination final in Canberra next week, but they might find it hard to overcome the mental effects of arguably their worst performance of the season. They made 17 handling errors, ruining their chances of victory, and endured several forgettable moments in which key players made unusual mistakes. Jesse Mogg twice in the second half failed to kick the ball into touch after being awarded penalties, but Matt Toomua was embarrassed most in when he caught Jayden Hayward's missed shot on goal the 79th minute then threw the ball forward 15 metres to a teammate without having the ball down - resulting in a Force scrum.
The Force finished last in the Australian conference - and 13th overall - but they can take heart from wins this season over the Brumbies, Queensland Reds, the Crusaders and the Highlanders. They left nib Stadium with a measure of concern, however, after lock Sam Wykes limped off with a leg injury and Wallabies forward Hugh McMeniman was stretchered off with a neck injury after contesting a breakdown.
The Force entered the match eager to atone for their 41-7 thumping at the hands of the Brumbies in April, but a pre-match downpour made conditions slippery and both teams were guilty of a glut of unforced knock-ons in a scrappy opening 20 minutes. The Brumbies looked particularly rusty, and Toomua dropped high ball to gift the Force the opportunity to score the first try. Toomua's mistake gave the Force great field position, and Matt Hodgson barged over after taking a quick tap from a penalty.
Sam Wykes leads Western Force try celebrations against the Brumbies © Getty Images
Brumbies centre Christian Lealiifano finally got the visitors on the board via a 34th-minute penalty, but the Force struck again on the stroke of half-time. The Brumbies were caught off guard with another quick tap, Force scrum-half Alby Mathewson offloading to Ben McCalman for the try. The Force increased their advantage to 18 points in the 46th minute, when a sweet offload from Nick Cummins gifted Junior Rasolea a nicely worked breakaway try.
The Brumbies hit back hard, with tries from Tevita Kuridrani and Scott Fardy reducing the deficit to six points with 14 minutes to play, but they were unable to land the final punch that would have claimed them an undeserved victory.
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