The Western Force has gone down to the Brumbies 27-14 at the ‘Force Field’ (nib Stadium) on Saturday night.
While the visitors held a 24-0 half-time advantage at half time, the Force stemmed the flow of points after the interval, crossing for two late tries to outscore the Brumbies 14-3 in the second term.
After claiming best-on-ground honours in the corresponding match last season, No.8 Ben McCalman was again dominant in the Force pack and was awarded the Haigh & Hastings Man of the Match.
Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley said it was important that his team responded after a strong first half from the Brumbies.
“The opposition had the kick-off and for the first eight to nine minutes we pretty much just gave them the ball back through poor kicking,” he said.
“We had to do a hell of a lot of defending, so they are fresh and they are coming at us and we are having to absorb that pressure.
“Once the opposition gets a couple of tries on you the mood tends to drop a bit and it takes a bit of time to get back into the game.
“The other thing in the first half was that our contact was not good enough. They out-enthused us in that area which is normally a strength for us.
“To the players’ credit they regrouped at half-time and in the second half they played much better rugby but you can’t get away from that if you give a good team, like the Brumbies, a start and momentum then it’s going to be a hard day at the office.”
The Brumbies dominated the early passages of play and converted the pressure into points through the opening five-pointer to Scott Fardy, and tries out wide to Jesse Mogg and Robbie Coleman.
Scrumhalf Nic White was accurate from the kicking tee, kicking all three conversions and a penalty on the stroke of half time for the 24-point lead.
While White added another penalty at the 55th-minute mark, it was the Force who had begun working their way back into the match, culminating with two late tries to in the final three minutes of the match
The first try was ignited by a darting run from the halfway mark by replacement flyhalf Sias Ebersohn who, in turn, linked with Luke Morahan with Jayden Hayward stepping past three defenders and carrying another across the line to score.
Determined to ride the momentum, the Force continued to keep the ball alive after the full-time siren, with a quick-thinking Matt Hodgson taking a quick tap inside the Brumbies quarter to send McCalman diving over the try line.
Force lock Hugh McMeniman was stretchered from the field in the 37th minute as a precaution and will be assessed this week regarding his availability to face the Melbourne Rebels at the ‘Force Field’ (nib Stadium) next Saturday (8 March).