BATTERED AND BRUISED HEAD TO SOUTH AFRICA
The Brumbies escaped with no serious injuries, but they'll be battered, bruised and a bit bloody when they board their flight to South Africa for the next two games. David Pocock broke his nose and had blood streaming from his nostrils for much of the second half. It did little to affect his impact on the game, forcing two penalties at the breakdown after being cleaned up by medical staff. Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano and Tevita Kuridrani all went down at different times with complaints, but all managed to complete the game. The Brumbies will need all hands on deck for their clashes against the Cape Town Stormers and the Free State Cheetahs. Coach Stephen Larkham will finalise his travelling party on Saturday. Robbie Coleman was a late inclusion to play the Force, after Andrew Smith withdrew with a foot injury. It is hoped Ita Vaea will be able to play in South Africa after dislocating his finger last weekend.
STANIFORTH'S SUPERB COMEBACK AFTER 700 DAYS WAITING
Tom Staniforth waited 701 days between his first and second Super Rugby games, but he didn't disappoint when he got a recall to the Brumbies side. The Canberra junior was injected in the second half and had almost an immediate impact. Staniforth got his hands on the ball and threw a lovely inside pass to Sam Carter to set up a crucial try for Joseph Tomane. When the Brumbies were under the pump with the Force charging back into the contest, he effected a lineout steal on the try-line and then moments later stripped the ball from Matt Hodgson in the middle of the field. Staniforth was a 19-year-old working as a pub glassy when he played his first game two years ago. Now he's a mature lock ready to make an impact at Super Rugby.
CHANGING FACES OF WINNING
The Brumbies set the bar high with a seven-try romp in their first game of the season in a return to attacking rugby. But they've had to win gritty in the past two weeks to show a different side of their game plan. Brumbies fans were excited at the prospect of free-flowing rugby from the Brumbies this year after their 52-10 smashing of the Wellington Hurricanes to start the season. However, Australian derbies take on a different mentality and require players to muscle up rather than running wide. The Brumbies have scored 15 tries in their first three games, nothing to be baulked at. And expect them to be putting teams to the sword when they have a chance. But to win titles you've got to have multiple strings to your bow, and that's what they've been able to produce to win their first three games. It's just the second time in 11 years they've started a season with a hat-trick of wins.
PLENTY OF FEELING IN AUSSIE DERBY
Most people expected the Brumbies to waltz to victory against the Force, and it looked like the game would follow the script when the Brumbies' dominated possession and territory for the first 15 minutes. They skipped out to a 17-0 lead, but that's when the Force muscled up and the match turned into a dog fight. The battle got fierce, typified by captains Stephen Moore and Matt Hodgson exchanging heated words and some push and shove. Moore even turned to referee Andrew Lees and asked: "What's his problem?" in reference to Hodgson. It was good to see plenty of passion on the line in the round-three match, with no one taking a backwards step.
ACT BRUMBIES 31 (Stephen Moore, Matt Toomua, Joseph Tomane, Josh Mann-Rea tries; Christian Lealiifano penalty, 4 conversions) bt WESTERN FORCE 14 (Luke Morahan, Ben Tapuai tries; Jono Lance, Peter Grant conversions) in Perth on Friday night. Referee: Andrew Lees.