The Brumbies should claim a convincing bonus-point win against the Force in Perth on Friday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
The Force battled the elements to secure a 22-6 win against the woeful Reds in Brisbane last week but apart from the goal-kicking of flyhalf Jono Lance, there was nothing to suggest they might have even the slightest chance of upstaging the Brumbies.
Stephen Larkham's men have made an excellent start to the season – hammering two top teams in the Hurricanes and Waratahs – and are the only undefeated Australasian side left in the competition.
This fixture has been spectacularly one-sided in recent times with the Brumbies winning seven of the last eight games, while the Force have won just one of their last nine games in Perth.
With no rain and a high of 30ºC forecast for the contest, the Brumbies, with all the firepower at their disposal, will look to play the game at a high tempo. They lead most of the competition's attacking stats, including most tries (10), while the Force have managed a total of just two against the Rebels and Reds.
The Force will need their forwards to front up in order to provide the likes of Lance and dangerous fullback Dane Haylett-Petty a better platform from which to launch than they did against the Reds. If they fail in that regard, the Brumbies will just steamroll their way to the tryline.
The hosts will be buoyed by the return of star eighthman Ben McMalman, who will help get the team more go-forward ball. He is one of five changes to the starting lineup along with hooker Heath Tessman, prop Jermaine Ainsley, lock Ross Haylett-Petty and scrumhalf Ian Prior.
The Brumbies have made just two injury-enforced tweaks, with lock Rory Arnold and No 8 Jarrad Butler replacing Blake Enever and Ita Vaea.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Brumbies 10, Force 4
In Perth: Brumbies 5, Force 2, Draw 1
STATS AND FACTS
– The Brumbies have won seven of their last eight matches against the Force, including a current winning streak of four games, the longest in the history of this fixture.
– The Brumbies have conceded just 20 first-half points in their last four matches against the Force, scoring 85 themselves in this run.
– The Force have won two of their last three matches and will now be hunting for consecutive wins for the first time since round 13 in 2014.
– After the opening two rounds, the Force are one of only two teams (along with the Stormers) yet to miss a place kick at goal (both sides are 11/11).
– Brumbies flanker Scott Fardy has won five turnovers so far this season, the equal second most of any player and the most of any player who is yet to concede a turnover.
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Force||Jono Lance (34)||Luke Morahan, Jono Lance (1)||Dane Haylett-Petty (179)||Matt Hodgson(30)|
|Brumbies||Christian Leali'ifano (32)||David Pocock, Christian Leali'ifano, Nigel Ah Wong, Sam Carter, Tevita Kuridrani, Joe Tomane (1)||Henry Speight (112)||Matt Toomua (23)|
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 Joe 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.
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)
Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images