Super Rugby

Brumbies secure home Super Rugby AU final

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The Brumbies beat the Western Force 31-14 in a scrappy Round Nine game of Super Rugby AU at GIO Stadium, Canberra.

The Brumbies secured a home Super Rugby AU final after the hard-fought five-tries-to-two victory over the winless Western Force in the Australian capital.

Tries from the two Toms, Wright and Banks, Will Miller, Len Ikitau and Andy Muirhead secured the two-time former champions place in the Super Rugby AU grand final.

The bonus-point win means the Queensland Reds cannot catch the Brumbies after the Canberra side moves seven points clear at the top of the table.

Wright’s score was his seventh in as many games for the ACT side as they booked a place in the show-pice event, despite looking lethargic and off their game.

Fergus Lee-Warner and Jono Lance dotted down for a spirited Force team who dominated the game for large stretches but could not turn pressure into points.

The victory was the Brumbies‘ 15th in 16 games at home and ninth on the trot against the hapless Force

The Perth-based franchise is still looking for their first win since returning to Super Rugby and sit bottom of the Aussie log.

For the hosts, it’s another shot at glory in a few weeks’ time.

The Western Force had the better of the first stanza despite trailing at the break.

They dominated territory and possession and had the better of the set-pieces for long stretches of this messy game.

The Brumbies were out of sorts and struggled to string phases together.

The Force had the better of the opening exchanges as the Brumbies’ set-piece faltered and the hosts conceded a string of penalties that kept them camped inside their half.

The visitors’ pressure paid off and they got off to a good start when Lee-Warner crashed over in the ninth minute after the Force turned down a couple of opportunities at three points.

Prior added the extras.

Dan McKellar’s men started to ramp up the pressure. A sustained period of attacks almost led to a couple of tries but for some good officiating between referee Amy Perrett and TMO Graham Cooper.

Muirhead went close after taking Connal McInerney’s inside ball before the captain Allan Alaalatoa barged over. TMO Cooper checked for a knock-on from the prop and the replay verified the TMO’s call.

A couple of minutes later, Muirhead dotted down in the corner but Joe Powell obstructed Richard Kahui’s attempted tackle, so the TMO called back the play.

Third times the charm for the hosts after Solomone Kata won a bouncing ball around halfway and sent Miller away. The flanker raced to the 22 before sending Wright away in the left corner.

Banks, who had been tryless in Super Rugby AU finally got over the chalk when he bashed his way through some weak talking to double his team’s advantage before the hooter.

The second half saw both teams strike inside the third quarter, but it was the Force who were the better team.

Miller, who had a game, finished off in the corner after the Force ran out of numbers following the Brumbies’ first foray into the opposition’s 22 on 51 minutes.

Bayley Kuenzle, at the third time of asking, finally landed a conversion to open up a 10-point lead.

Almost immediately from the restart, the visitors hit back when Lance picked up a misplaced pass from his bootlaces and cut inside two defenders to get his team’s second try.

Prior, who earlier had brought up 100 points in Super Rugby AU, made it 17-14 with his second successful conversion.

The Brumbies pulled away in the last quarter as the Force ran out ideas of steam.

Despite having all the territory and possession, the Force could not make it count; instead, they squandered several opportunities before conceding the dagger.

Tim Sampson’s side gave away penalties at the ruck and scrum when inside the opposition’s 22, while McKellar’s men took their opportunities hen they entered the red zone.

The visitors kept coming but it was the hosts who extended their lead when Ikitau crossed for his maiden Super Rugby try.

Ikitau’s score came from some quick thinking when Nick White took a quick-tap penalty to set-up the five-pointer.

Kuenzle added the extras to reopen the two-score advantage with 13 minutes remaining.

Muirhead, who was denied in the first half, finally got his try when he beat Brad Lacey to a rolling ball to score with five to play, and seal the bonus-point win and home final.

Folau Fainga’a almost made history with a last-minute try, but the TMO ruled his score out for obstruction. It did not matter.

Final Score: Brumbies 31 (10) Western Force 14 (7)

Scorers

Brumbies
Tries – Wright, Banks, Miller, Ikitau, Muirhead
Pen –
Con – Kuenzle (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Western Force
Tries – Lee-Warner, Lance
Pen –
Con – Prior (2)
Drop –
Cards –

 

Match Officials
Referee: Amy Perrett
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 2: Reuben Keane
TMO: Graham Cooper

Teams

Brumbies

15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Solomone Kata, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Bayley Kuenzle, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Will Miller, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Murray Douglas, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Connal McInerney, 1 James Slipper

Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Rob Valetini, 21 Nic White, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Len Ikitau

Western Force

15 Jack McGregor, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Brad Lacey, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior (captain), 8 Henry Stowers, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Pek Cowan

Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Tom Sheminant, 19 Tevin Ferris, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Nick Jooste, 23 Jake Strachan

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