Brumbies spoil Sharpe's party
Jesse Mogg of the Brumbies takes a high ball. Photo: Getty Images
THE BONUS POINT OMEN
The Brumbies secured their 10th bonus point of the season last night. Just one team in Brumbies history has managed the same feat - the championship-winning side from 2002. Bonus points have ruined the finals hopes of past Brumbies teams. But that won't be a factor in the run to the play-offs this season. They played an open and free-flowing style - aided by some woeful Force defence - and it took just two minutes for them to score the first try. After 40 minutes they already had their four try bonus.
The Brumbies exploded into the contest, but they left their try-scoring hunger in the changeroom when they returned after half-time. It would have made coach Jake White nervous as the Force - riding on emotion in Nathan Sharpe's last game in Perth - got back into the match. They scored three-second half tries while the Brumbies could only kick two penalty goals. If the Brumbies want to be a serious contender, they can't afford lapses in concentration. Luckily they showed they're good enough to withstand an onslaught.
WHAT NEEDS TO IMPROVE
The ability to put teams to the sword. The Brumbies tore the Force apart in the first half but they struggled after the break. The scoreline should have been much greater. Zack Holmes's inaccurate goal-kicking needs to change. He slotted just three of seven attempts. A team stronger than the Force would have made the Brumbies pay.
THE POCOCK FACTOR
It was the master taking on the apprentice and the battle between David Pocock and Michael Hooper was relatively even. Pocock is the best openside flanker in the world and he showed why the Brumbies are keen to recruit him for next season. He saved at least three tries on his own and was a constant pest at the breakdown. Hooper will leave Canberra to join the Waratahs at the end of the season. If Pocock wants to be successful in Super Rugby, the Brumbies loom as the best place for his new home.
WHERE TO NOW
The Brumbies need just six points to clinch a finals spot and perhaps the most promising aspect is the team is yet to put together a complete performance. They play the NSW Waratahs on Saturday and finish against the Auckland Blues. At the moment they control their destiny. But a minor slip could see it go pear-shaped. They can't afford to watch the ladder, they just need to win.
ACT BRUMBIES 28 (Jesse Mogg, Ben Alexander, Henry Speight, Zack Holmes tries; Zack Holmes conv, 2 pen goals) bt WESTERN FORCE 17 (Nick Cummins, 2, Toby Lynn tries; Dave Harvey conv) at nib Stadium last night. Referee: Ian Smith. Crowd: 13,571.