Rugby Union

Brumbies roll into battle against Force, but say maul tactics aren't in spirit of the game

Brumbies captain Stephen Moore says disengaging tactics against the rolling maul are not in the "spirit of the game" but concedes teams will try new things in an attempt to shut down the ACT's attacking weapon.

The Brumbies have used their maul as a platform for try-scoring plays in the first month of the Super Rugby season and the move has yielded significant results with almost all tries starting from lineouts.

The ACT Brumbies work on their rolling maul ahead of Friday night's clash with the Western Force.
The ACT Brumbies work on their rolling maul ahead of Friday night's clash with the Western Force. Photo: Graham Tidy

It has prompted teams to consider standing off the Brumbies pack before running around the back to shut the play down.

It's a legal tactic but one that Moore said the Brumbies would not use.

"It's definitely legal so teams are going to do it, it's not something we would look to do and I don't think it's in the spirit of the game," he said.

"Anything within the rules is play on. If it happens again we'll have to deal with it as best we can. We've scored a couple of tries [off our maul] and that's a change for us.

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"We got a lot out of our rolling maul last year but we didn't score enough tries from it. The more something goes well for you, the more attention the opposition pay to it so no doubt they'll look to stop it."

The Brumbies have named an unchanged line-up for their clash against the Western Force at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

The match is a huge chance to build momentum in a month of Australian derby contests, including clashes against the Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs in the next two weeks.

The Brumbies have used their lineout and rolling maul as key attacking move in the opening rounds but the Melbourne Rebels found a chink in the armour last week when they opted against initiating contact.

Instead of pushing against the Brumbies forwards, they ran around the back of the maul to tackle the player with the ball.

It's a tactic that has been used in international rugby, but SANZAR referees boss Lyndon Bray sent a video to Super Rugby coaches at the start of the year and asked them to resist the temptation of using the "negative tactic".

Force coach Michael Foley is aware of the Brumbies' forward-pack strength, imploring his team to improve its physicality to match the ACT side.

"They're scoring a lot of tries from their lineout ... the volume of mauling they're doing is evident. I think of the six tries they scored in round one, five of them started with a maul," Foley said.

"You've seen teams [disengage when defending mauls] from time to time, it's a good surprise or shock tactic. It can be quite clever.

"It's probably credit to the Brumbies [that the Rebels] mixed things up a bit. There's no question we have to be good in that area and the contact area in general."

The Brumbies have a narrow lead at the top of the Australian conference, but can't afford to lose home games if they want to be Super Rugby title contenders.

The Force are still smarting from a disappointing loss to the Wellington Hurricanes in Perth last weekend and return to Canberra for the first time since the Brumbies ended their hopes of a breakthrough finals appearance last year.

"They've got plenty to motivate them ... they will be disappointed with the way they lost last week, we're expecting a fiery confrontation," Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said.

Foley said the Force were determined to repair their dented pride after failing to muscle up in the past two matches following their round-one win against defending champions the Waratahs.

"I was pleased with where our contact started [against the Waratahs] ... in the last two weeks the thing that has let us down is collisions. You rely on go forward," Foley said.

"There's no question [it's mental] and we have to have a sharper focus. Our attitude at the breakdown has to be better, we need to be more urgent."

SUPER RUGBY ROUND FOUR

Friday: ACT Brumbies v Western Force at Canberra Stadium, 7.40pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports 2. Tickets available at Ticketek.

Brumbies team: 15. Robbie Coleman, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Christian Lealiifano, 11. Joseph Tomane, 10. Matt Toomua, 9. Nic White, 8. Ita Vaea, 7. Jarrad Butler, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Scott Sio. Reserves: 16. Josh Mann-Rea, 17. Jean-Pierre Smith, 18. Ruan Smith, 19. Jordan Smiler, 20. Blake Enever, 21. Michael Dowsett, 22. James Dargaville, 23. Jesse Mogg.

Force team: 15. Luke Morahan, 14. Marcel Brache, 13. Kyle Godwin, 12. Solomoni Rasolea, 11. Nick Cummins, 10. Zack Holmes, 9. Alby Mathewson, 8. Ben McCalman, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Brynard Stander, 5. Steve Mafi, 4. Sam Wykes, 3. Tetera Faulkner, 2. Nathan Charles, 1. Pek Cowan. Reserves: 16. Heath Tessmann, 17. Chris Heiberg, 18. Oliver Hoskins, 19. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20. Kane Koteka, 21. Ian Prior, 22. Sias Ebersohn, 23. Luke Burton.