Four first-half tries were enough to keep a strong finishing Force outfit out of the winner’s circle on Saturday night when the University of Canberra Brumbies claimed their third win over the West Australians for 2012, 28-17.
In what was Western Force legend Nathan Sharpe’s last home game in Perth, the home side carried plenty of emotion through the week but couldn’t translate that into on-field form.
It was also a special night for Brumby No 152, Cam Crawford, who made his Super Rugby debut in front of a packed house at nib Stadium.
The Force managed to give the University of Canberra Brumbies a scare at the start of the second half with two quick tries to Nick Cummins, but the home side never got closer than eight points.
Four tries and a bonus point thanks to Jesse Mogg, Ben Alexander, Zack Holmes and Henry Speight had the Force reeling by half time, with some way-ward goal-kicking the only thing keeping them in the match.
Head Coach Jake White was pleased to leave Perth with five more competition points.
“We had to start well, we knew that the emotion of Sharpie’s last game was always going to have an effect on the way they prepared,” White said.
“To come back from the three-week break and to make a statement in the first half like that was very pleasing. We did slack off a bit, that’s probably a bit of inexperience coming through, I think we probably thought we’d done enough.
“That’s a good lesson for us, not just for next week but next year and into the future. The one thing we have in our favour is that we can still control our own destiny.
“We don’t have to look at the ladder or who’s beating who, the reality is if we just keep winning we will make the finals. It’s as simple as that. We want to win the conference because after that it’s knock-out rugby and anything can happen from there.”
Holmes, Speight and Mogg all found themselves on the end of some quality lead up work with the University of Canberra Brumbies clocking up 10 line breaks to the Force’s three. The West Australians struggled to keep up with the Brumbies as the forward pack provided plenty of clean ball for Nic White to work with.
Holmes was solid in attack, setting up Speight’s try with a lofty long pass after cutting his way into open space. His own try was also a quality effort, stepping around David Pocock to put his side out of reach.
Mogg will have nightmares of Cummins for the rest of his life after the solid outside back set his sights on the rookie winger on multiple occasions. His two tries were down Mogg’s flank and had it not been for some brave defence from Mogg late in the game Cummins could well have claimed another two.
The University of Canberra Brumbies now travel to Sydney for next weekend’s clash with the NSW Waratahs at ANZ Stadium.
UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA BRUMBIES 28 (Ben Alexander, Zack Holmes, Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight tries Holmes con 2 pens) bt WESTERN FORCE 17 (Nick Cummins 2, Toby Lynn tries David Harvey con) at nib Stadium. Referee: Ian Smith. Crowd: 13,571
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore (replaced by Anthony Hegarty, 79th minute)
3. Dan Palmer (replaced by Ruaidhri Murphy, 55th minute)
4. Scott Fardy
5. Sam Carter
6. Peter Kimlin (replace by Ita Vaea, 66th moniute)
7. Michael Hooper
8. Ben Mowen (c)
9. Nic White (replaced by Ian Prior, 79th minute)
10. Zack Holmes
11. Jesse Mogg (replaced by Henry Speight, 79th minute)
12. Pat McCabe
13. Andrew Smith
14. Henry Speight (replaced by Cam Crawford, 79th minute)
15. Robbie Coleman
16. Anthony Hegarty
17. Ruaidhri Murphy
18. Leon Power
19. Ita Vaea
20. Ian Prior
21. Tevita Kuridrani
22. Cam Crawford