The University of Canberra Brumbies have narrowly clinched their first win of the season 19-17 against the Western Force at Canberra Stadium, Friday night.
The Force were a far better side to the one the University of Canberra Brumbies faced in Darwin, pushing the home side to the final siren to claim second place.
It was a special game for the six University of Canberra Brumbies debutants, Leon Power, Ben Mowen, Jesse Mogg, Ruaidhri Murphy, Scott Fardy, and Joe Tomane. All six are new to the club, with Tomane, Murphy, Fardy and Mogg making their Super Rugby debuts.
Mogg was impressive in attack, punishing the Force with several quick raids and a second half try to claim the Man of the Match award.
Head Coach Jake White acknowledged there was plenty of work to be done but he was pleased to leave Canberra Stadium with a win.
“Tonight was a big step in forming the way we want to fight to the end of matches,” White said.
“It was a must win for the boys confidence and we’ve achieved that goal”.
“At the end of the day it was always going to be tight, they are the Western Force, they are a quality rugby team and they were never going to come over here wanting anything but a win.
“But credit to our boys, they stuck in there. I’ve said it so many times that other teams don’t know how good we can be – that we don’t know how good we can be.
“A wins a win, it wasn’t the prettiest match I’ve ever seen but at the end of the day we wanted a win – back when I arrived here on June 12 I circled today in my diary as a must win for the boys confidence and we’ve achieved that goal.”
Both teams wanted to play the game away from their own 22s, with kicking the main focus of the entire first half.
The first quarter of the game saw a glut of penalties to both teams. White converted three out of four, including an impressive 53m bomb to put his team in the lead. Stannard converted two of three for the Western Force gifting the home side a 9-6 lead.
The penalties continued into the second quarter with Stannard’s boot helping the Western Force overtake the University of Canberra Brumbies on the score board. At half time the Western Force led 12-nine.
The University of Canberra Brumbies showed some attacking flair near the end of the first half with the forwards reaping rewards for their long pre-season, driving the Force off the ball giving the backs plenty of room to move.
Mogg had the crowd on its feet in his debut FxPro Super Rugby match, steaming onto a short ball close to the posts to nudge his team into the lead.
Eight minutes later, Coleman crossed the line again for the University of Canberra Brumbies. This try was a culmination of sharp passing and support from the team, fly-half Matt Toomua spotting Coleman out wide and hitting him with a lofty pass to run into space.
Most encouragingly for the team was that the University of Canberra Brumbies were able to close out the game, holding off an attacking Western Force team who held ball possession for the last five minutes. The University of Canberra Brumbies defended their line desperately.
The University of Canberra Brumbies now have two weeks off, with their next match against the Cheetahs back at Canberra Stadium on March 10.
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore (replaced by Anthony Hegarty)
3. Dan Palmer (replaced by Ruaidhri Murphy)
4. Leon Power (replaced by Scott Fardy)
5. Sam Carter
6. Peter Kimlin
7. Ita Vaea (replaced by Michael Hooper)
8. Ben Mowen
9. Nic White
10. Matt Toomua
11. Jesse Mogg
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Andrew Smith
14. Henry Speight
15. Robbie Coleman (replaced by Joe Tomane)
16. Anthony Hegarty
17. Ruaidhri Murphy
18. Scott Fardy
19. Michael Hooper
20. Ian Prior
21. Zack Holmes
22. Joe Tomane