A fast finishing Brumbies outfit were too much for the Force to hold off tonight in a ripping Australian Conference contest.
Here are five things we learned.
1. Larkham finds gem in Hawera
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham dismissed any playmaking concerns in the pre-season by continuously backing the skill set of his prized New Zealand recruit. The 23-year-old attacks the line and showcases fast-stepping feet reminiscent of a 2011 Quade Cooper. His combination with Joe Powell is starting to sharpen.
2. Force continue to open up
Force coach Dave Wessels has preached the importance of playing an attacking brand of rugby in Perth. After two weeks spent playing the classic Force way, the first half tonight was a sure sign of what is to come. The 9-10-12 combination of Ryan Louwrens, Jono Lance and Bill Meakes is singing. The trio are using clean set piece ball to attack the line and create stacks of space for their potent arsenal of outside backs.
3. Ill-discipline costs Force four points
The visitors controlled the first 30 minutes of the second half and it looked like it might have been enough to win had it not been for poor discipline. They continued to hand Hawera shots at goal but his wayward boot stopped them chasing a lead. The Ross Haylett-Petty yellow card with 10 to play was the straw that broke the camel's back, as the Brumbies ran in two tries to seal the four points.
4. Aussie derbies on the up
If the impending Super Rugby reform throws up more Australian derbies like tonight, bring it on. There have been plenty of dour derbies duked out in Canberra but this topsy turvy affair was not one of them. The conditions were admittedly treacherous across the ditch in the Chiefs-Hurricanes match tonight but this clash was a more enjoyable affair.
5. Dargaville shoots for higher honours
Henry Speight scored the first points of the night but it was the performance of James Dargaville on the left wing which caught the eye. The 24-year-old has a touch of Nick Cummins about the way he hunts work and carries the ball into contact. He was both industrious and impactful tonight, racking up 68 metres, three tackle busts and three linebreaks in six runs.