The Brumbies scored their first victory in Perth in three years, beating the Force 24-15 to get their Super 14 off to a winning start.
The Brumbies scored their first victory in Perth in three years, beating the Force 24-15 to get their Super 14 off to a winning start..
A fabulous showing from the Brumbies forwards gave the two-time Super Rugby champions every reason to believe that 2010 will be a successful season, as front rowers either scored or were involved in all three of their tries.
Brumbies centre Stirling Mortlock went down in Super Rugby history as the first player to pass the 1,000 career points mark, thanks to his second conversion of the match.
Two well taken first-quarter tries had given the Brumbies a 14-3 lead, but the visitors were bleeding penalties at the breakdown where the new law interpretations cost them dearly.
The hosts never really looked like a threat but with Wallaby wunderkind James O'Conner in superb form from the kicking tee, the Force were able to stay in touch as the full-back slotted four penalties to leave the score at 14-12 at the break.
Force fly-half Mark Bartholomeusz was a late withdrawal meaning that Sam Harris had to stand in at ten and the Force suffered without a specialist pivoting their attack.
With Matt Dunning and referee Steve Walsh not seeing eye to eye at scrum-time either, the Force weren't getting a lot of quality first-phase ball for Harris to work with.
The visitors were first to strike with a wonderful try when prop Ben Alexander broke clear and linked up with flanker George Smith, whose neat offload put scrum-half Josh Valentine clear for a score under the posts.
The Brumbies extended their lead on the twenty-minute mark from a set move that saw hooker Stephen Moore put full-back Adam Ashley-Cooper clear to break down the right-hand touchline before finding Moore back on his inside. The hooker looked like a back as he galloped home untouched.
Mortlock's record-setting conversion was followed by a scrappy second quarter and the O'Connor's place-kicking show kept the Force in with a shout.
Mortlock gave his side a five-point lead thanks to another penalty after the break, only to see O'Connor make it five from five following another Brumbies' ruck infringement.
The teams entered the final ten minutes with the Brumbies ahead by just two points, despite the fact that the Force hadn't once threatened to score a try.
The knock-out blow was not long in coming, however, as Mortlock delayed his pass perfectly to set replacement hooker Huia Edmonds free down the touchline. The big man burnt up the grass to score, securing the win and denying the Force a bonus point in the process.
Man of the match: While James O'Connor put in an eye-catching performance, Brumbies centre Christian Lealiifano gets our gong. He was a livewire on attack and his creativity kept the Force defenders on their toes.
For Western Force:
Tries: Valentine, Moore, Edmonds
Cons: Mortlock 3
Western Force: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Josh Tatupu, 11 Cameron Shepherd, 10 Sam Harris, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Matt Hodgson, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Matt Dunning, 2 Pek Cowan, 1 Nic Henderson
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Tim Fairbrother, 18 Richard Stanford, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 Chris O'Young, 21 Mitchell Inman, 22
Brumbies: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Josh Valentine, 8 Stephen Hoiles (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Justin Harrison, 4 Mark Chisholm, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Salesi Maafu, 18 Ben Hand, 19 , 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Tyrone Smith, 22 Alfi Mafi.
Venue: Members Equity Stadium, Perth
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nathan Pearce (Australia), Julian Pritchard (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)