Canberra’s Brumbies have won the Australian Super Rugby Conference and qualified for the play-offs after beating the Force 24-10 at GIO Stadium.
The victory is the Brumbies sixth consecutive victory over the Western Force who finish the season with two wins from 15 matches.
The Brumbies victory eliminates the Waratahs from the play offs as the Brumbies finish the regular season with three more points than the Sydney side in the standings.
The result means that the Brumbies will host a Super Rugby quarter final and they will play the Highlanders next Saturday in Canberra at 18.00 local time (unconfirmed).
The Brumbies went into the match against the lowly Force knowing they could afford to lose the match and still finish ahead of the Waratahs if they gained a bonus point.
However, they never looked like losing against the injury-ravaged Force, who were outgunned in almost every position.
The Brumbies scored three tries to one but will know they need to improve markedly when they host defending champions the Highlanders next weekend.
“They are the defending champions, but the positive is that it is at home in front of our fans,” Brumbies co-captain Christian Leali’ifano said.
“We’re excited about the challenge — we’ve just got to stay focused and we’ll see what happens next week.”
The Force began with plenty of commitment and dominated the early stages, but were unable to break through the solid Brumbies defence.
It took 20 minutes for the first points to be scored, a penalty from Leali’ifano, but the points came regularly after that.
Matt Toomua crossed under the posts for the Brumbies first try to make it 10-0 after 25 minutes, but the Force hit back with a penalty to Ian Prior and a 60-metre try from winger Ben Tapuai.
However, the rest of the first half belonged to the home side, whose scrum was in total control.
Referee Paul Williams awarded a penalty try after a collapsed scrum on the Force tryline, before Wallabies winger Tevita Kuridrani crossed under the posts right on halftime to give the Brumbies a 24-10 lead at the break.
In a worrying sign for the Brumbies, they were unable to go on with the job and struggled to make an impact in the second half.
“I’m glad that we got the win but obviously there were parts of our game that were really disappointing,” Leali’ifano said.
“They’re a tough defensive side and work really well for each other. It was tough to find cracks.
“They put pressure on us, which is really good heading into next week.”
Final Score Brumbies 24 (24) Force 10 (10)
Tries – M.Toomua, Penalty Try, T.Kuridrani
Pen – C.Lealiifano
Con – C.Lealiifano 3
Pen – I.Prior
Con – I>Prior
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 1:Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 2:Ed Martin
TMO : Damien Mitchelmore
Scott Sio , Stephen Moore (c) , Ruan Smith , Rory Arnold , Sam Carter , Scott Fardy , Jarrad Butler , Michael Wells , Tomás Cubelli , Christian Lealiifano (c) , James Dargaville , Matt Toomua , Tevita Kuridrani , Nigel Ah Wong , Aidan Toua
Replacements : Josh Mann-Rea, Allan Alaalatoa, Ben Alexander, Tom Staniforth, Blake Enever, Joe Powell, Andrew Smith, Lausii Taliauli
1. Pek Cowan , 2. Harry Scoble , 3. Guy Millar , 4. Ross Haylett-Petty , 5. Rory Walton , 6. Brynard Stander , 7. Chris Alcock , 8. Richard Hardwick , 9. Ian Prior , 10. Jono Lance , 11. Luke Morahan (c) , 12. Kyle Godwin , 13. Ben Tapuai , 14. Marcel Brache , 15. Dane Haylett-Petty
Replacements : 16. Anaru Rangi , 17. Francois van Wyk , 18. Jermaine Ainsley , 19. Matt Philip , 20. Kane Koteka , 21. Ryan Louwrens , 22. Peter Grant , 23. Semisi Masirewa ,