The Brumbies recorded a workmanlike 31-14 victory over the Force in Perth on Friday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
In perfect weather conditions inside the Perth Oval, both sides played enterprising rugby but will rue their lack of discipline which led to 24 penalties conceded and three yellow cards.
It was one-way traffic in the opening quarter of the match as the Brumbies raced out to a 17-0 lead, but once they were reduced to 14 men, there was a definite shift in momentum which prevented the contest turning into a one-sided affair.
Flyhalf Christian Leali'fano opened the scoring with a third-minute penalty for the visitors before captain Stephen Moore turned the Brumbies' dominance into more points via a well-constructed try when he crashed over from the back of a driving maul.
They continued to pin the Force in their own territory and were rewarded with a further score by inside centre Matt Toomua. This came after some good work by Scott Fardy, who ran an inside line and held the ball up nicely in the tackle until his support runner, Toomua, popped up to round off the move. Leali'ifano nailed his second conversion.
However, any fears of the game becoming a blow-out in favour of the visitors were squashed as the Force livened up in the final 10 minutes of the opening period. Brumbies scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli was sent off for deliberately kicking the ball away after the whistle and the Force pounced once they had a numerical advantage. Spotting the run of Luke Morahan, flyhalf Jono Lance threw a neat inside pass to the fullback, who at full pace sliced through the Brumbies defence to score next to the posts. Lance added the conversion to reduce the deficit to 17-7 at the break.
The second half paled in comparison to the first with both teams conceding a number of penalties without adding any points to the scoreboard until the 55th minute.
Wing Joe Tomane extended the Brumbies lead with a third converted try, but the Force responded soon after. They introduced replacement flyhalf Peter Grant and it was the South African's perfectly weighted grubber that set up Ben Tapuia for the Force's second effort.
The Force starved the Brumbies of possession in the closing stages, but the visitors' dominating scrum saw them win the ball against the feed twice. It was from there that Stephen Larkham's men launched one final attack with replacement hooker Josh Mann-Rea surging over to put some gloss on the scoreline.
Force – Try: Luke Morahan, Ben Tapuai. Conversions: Jono Lance, Peter Grant.
Brumbies – Tries: Stephen Moore, Matt Toomua, Joe Tomane, Josh Mann-Rea. Conversions: Christian Leali'ifano (4). Penalty: Leali'ifano.
Force – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pekahou Cowan. Subs: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Angus Cottrell, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Marcel Brache.
Brumbies – 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joseph Tomane, 10 Christian Leali'ifano, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio. Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua'iali'i-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Jordan Smiler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.
Photo: Morné de Klerk/Getty Images