Brumbies surge late to edge Force

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The fast-stepping feet of Wharenui Hawera have carried the Brumbies to a resolute 25-17 win over the Force at GIO Stadium.

Coach Stephen Larkham has repeatedly backed Hawera as his chief playmaker and the Kiwi import put the Australian Conference on notice tonight.

He attacked the line with purpose, running as well as he passed and placed the Force defensive line under constant strain.

The 23-year-old's right foot step set up the match winner, as he beat two defenders before being cut down five metres out.

Dane Haylett-Petty was among the Force's best again tonight. Photo: Getty Images

Kyle Godwin made the most of the space that the run created, slicing through for the eventual match winner.

The Force will rue missed opportunities and poor discipline, in what was a game they could have won on another night.

Force coach Dave Wessels has repeatedly spoken about his team playing an expansive brand of football never before seen in Perth and there were more glimpses of it tonight.

The visitors used clean set piece ball to immediately punch over the gain line and suck Brumbies defenders in before sending it wide, often finding acres of space.

It's a formula that is tough to defend and Wessels stuck to his guns as his scrum started to falter in the second quarter of the match, bringing on Tatafu Polota-Nau and Jermaine Ainsley to strengthen the set piece.

Aidan Toua offloads for the Brumbies. Photo: Getty ImagesThe visitors controlled the second half, just as they did last week against the Reds, before a 70th minute yellow card to Ross Haylett-Petty turned the match on its head.

Godwin's match winner was followed by a sealer to Robbie Abel, eradicating all the Force's hard work.

The visitors should have scored two tries early but botched both opportunities after some superb attacking football to open the match.

Chance Peni was penalised for not releasing as he stretched out to score in the 3rd minute before Luke Morahan threw a wayward pass between two players in a 3-on-1 opportunity with five minutes gone.

After emerging from the storm unscathed, the Brumbies asserted themselves for three minutes and were immediately rewarded.

Henry Speight scored the first points of the night after he ran straight over the top of Tetera Faulkner in the 14th minute.

The home side continued to dominate territory and possession for the next 20 before Faulkner was found wanting again - Wharenui Hawera sliding past him for the second try of the night.Jono Lance led the Force's crisp attacking rugby tonight. Photo: Getty ImagesHaving playing the majority of the attacking rugby, it was ironic that a rolling maul notched the Force's first points of the night - Heath Tessman peeling off the back to dive over as the half-time siren sounded.

The half-time substitutions of Polota-Nau and Ainsley paid immediate dividends.

Some hard, straight running sucked the Brumbies in deep inside their own 22 before Dane Haylett-Petty threw a cutout to Chance Peni for an untouched try and the Force's first lead of the night.

After missing his first three shots of the night, Hawera finally slotted a penalty but the laser-like boot of Jono Lance pushed the lead back out to 17-13 with 68 minutes on the clock.

The Haylett-Petty yellow card welcomed a barrage of Brumbies attack ensued.

After Godwin put his team in front, Robbie Abel scored the sealer off the back of a trademark Brumbies rolling maul.

RESULT

Brumbies 25

Tries: Speight, Hawera, Godwin, Abel

Cons: Hawera

Pens: Hawera

Force 17

Tries: Tessman, Peni

Cons: Lance 2

Pens: Lance

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