2/11/2006

Brumbies spoil Force party



The CA Brumbies have rained on the Western Force's opening night parade, winning  a hard-fought Tooheys New Super 14 Week One clash 25-10 at Subiaco Oval in Perth.


The travelling Brumbies, who were hit by a mystery virus that struck down twenty of the twenty-six man touring squad, were greeted by a sea of blue jerseys at the 43,000 seat Subiaco Oval on a balmy summer night in Australian Rugby's newest Super 14 host city.


A crowd of 37,037 was on hand for the historic first match in the West, however it was the Brumbies who stole the show with an inspired fifteen-point victory.


Mark Chisholm, Joel Wilson and Matt Giteau each scored five-pointers for the Brumbies, while former Brumby Scott Fava dived over for the first ever Western Force try, and their only for the night.


Force flyhalf Scott Daruda had a chance to post first points in the match with a penalty shot from the half-way line, which carried the distance but faded to the right of the uprights in the 18th minute.


Just one minute later it was the Brumbies who drew first blood, with lock Mark Chisholm scoring a barnstorming solo try.


Chisholm intercepted Force scrumhalf and former teammate Matt Henjak and carried the ball forty metres to score on the left hand side of the field.


Henjak had darted from a ruck and attempted to shift the ball to his blind side support players when Chisholm stuck his arm out and interfered with the pass before hauling the ball in and carrying it forty metres to the tryline, beating the covering defence of Scott Daruda.


Eight minutes later Captain Stirling Mortlock, who was first-choice kicker for the Brumbies, added a penalty goal to give the away team an 8-0 lead.


With ten minutes remaining in the half, Scott Daruda got his slice of history, recording the first points for the Force when he landed a penalty goal attempt from forty metres out to reduce the defecit to five.


Referee Stuart Dickenson had warned both captains about hands in the ruck, before Brumbies flanker Julian Salvi, in his second Super Rugby match, was yellow-carded nine minutes out from the break.


The Force then suffered a major blow when they lost former Waratahs back Lachlan MacKay to a knee injury on the stroke of half-time.


Five minutes into the second half, the Western Force fans finally got their moment. Fullback James Hilgendorf made a break down the short side to start a swift attacking movement, before Scott Fava eventually caught an inside pass from Matt Henjak and raced twenty metres to score, with the near-capacity crowd riding him to the tryline.


When Daruda added the extras from the sideline to give the Force their first lead in the match, the crowd of over 37,000 Sandgropers erupted.


Minutes later, Mark Gerrard colided heavily with Force winger Josh Graham, leaving Graham heavily concussed and Gerrard nursing his left shoulder.


Gerrard and Graham both left the field but from that moment the Brumbies took control of the match.


In the 58th minute George Smith, who was outstanding for the Brumbies, produced a turnover in the Force' red zone which set up a try for replacement winger Joel Wilson.
From the turnover, the ball was shifted right and then back to the left, where Wilson capitalised on an overlap to score in the corner.


Mortlock's sideline conversion made it 15-10 to the visitors, before three minutes later Matt Giteau sliced through the right hand side defence to score the third Brumbies try.
Mortlock converted the try and then sealed the match with his second penalty goal with twelve minutes remaining.
The experience and composure of the Brumbies was a decisive factor in the match and showed the benefit of having their full contingent of test stars on the field.
George Smith was awarded Man of the Match, while Stephen Larkham and George Gregan led the team with typical composure.


Jone Tawake and Julian Salvi also played strongly for the Brumbies, while the set piece was solid for the majority of the game.


Another outstanding feature for the away team was its defence. The Brumbies missed just six tackles in the first half and were rock solid under pressure throughout the match.


Hooker Jeremy Paul aggravated his calf injury early in the match, but defiantly played on into the second half before eventually being replaced by David Palavi.


The Brumbies will fly to South Africa tomorrow for a two-match tour, starting with a clash with last year's semi-finalists the Bulls at Minolta Loftus next Friday night.
CA Brumbies 25 (Mark Chisholm, Joel Wilson, Matt Giteau tries; Stirling Mortlock 2 conversions, 2 penalty goals) defeated Western Force 10 (Scott Fava try; Scott Daruda conversion, penalty) at Subiaco Oval, Perth, AUS