Resilient Force edged by Brumbies in Semi Final
The Western Force’s historic finals campaign has come to an end, following a 21-9 loss to reigning champions ACT Brumbies at GIO Stadium in Canberra.
It was a closely fought encounter that saw the Brumbies pushed all the way, with the Force combating the hosts’ possession with consistently strong defensive efforts, in particular after being reduced to 14 men just moments before the half time siren sound.
Captain Kyle Godwin was proud of the team’s effort, but insists the squad is hungry for more.
“We’ll be back to the drawing board on Monday and make sure we are fit and firing for Super Rugby Trans-Tasman,” he explained.
It was a tight and tense opening 30 minutes to the Semi Final, with both sides unable to capitalise on set-piece situations following a slew of penalties given by referee Nic Berry.
The Force defence remained resolute throughout the opening stages, as they stood strong under sustained pressure from the hosts, particularly in the scrum.
The visitors’ resilience paid dividends in the 34th minute, with Domingo Miotti opening the scoring through a penalty goal from straight in front.
The Brumbies hit back swiftly through Tom Wright, as the winger crossed over in the far-left corner from Rob Valetini’s long pass. Wright’s try was converted by Noah Lolesio to make the score 7-3 in favour of the Brumbies.
Toni Pulu was given a red card on the stroke of half time after being judged to have made a dangerous tackle on Irae Simone. The Brumbies capitalised on the penalty with fullback Tom Banks scoring their second try of the night after a successful line-out.
Despite the setback, the Force came out firing early in the second half, with Miotti reducing the deficit to six points with another perfectly executed penalty goal following yet another powerful scrum.
Wright was denied a second try of the Semi Final with a TMO decision, after Miotti’s crucial tackle pushed the winger’s foot into touch just moments before touching down, as the score remained 12-6 to the Brumbies with 54 minutes played.
Lolesio stretched the Brumbies advantage to nine points with a penalty goal at the 60-minute mark, to which the Force responded powerfully, winning consecutive penalties at set-piece situations. Miotti kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Force following their powerful attacking pressure, with the Argentinian international making no mistake with his third penalty goal in the 65th minute.
Brumbies replacement scrumhalf Ryan Lonergan added two more penalty goals in the final ten minutes of the match to see the contest end 21-9 to the hosts.
Godwin was quick to praise the loyal Force Members and fans following a historic Super Rugby AU campaign.
“To the fans, the West Australian community, the Sea of Blue in WA: we heard your support all throughout the week. You really helped us through the game tonight and unfortunately, we couldn’t get the result for you. But we’ll be fit and firing, ready for Super Rugby Trans-Tasman,” he said.
Western Force – Penalties: Miotti (3)
ACT Brumbies – Tries: Tom Wright, Tom Banks. Conversions: Noah Lolesio. Penalties: Noah Lolesio, Ryan Lonergan (2).
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