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Brumbies force finals issue

Date

Chris Dutton

Force 17 Brumbies 28

Winning start ... Jesse Mogg crosses for the Brumbies’ first  try during their 28-17 victory over the Western Force in Perth.

Winning start ... Jesse Mogg crosses for the Brumbies’ first try during their 28-17 victory over the Western Force in Perth. Photo: Getty Images

THE ACT Brumbies are perfectly positioned to break a Super Rugby finals hoodoo, but they had to survive a big scare and a second-half fade to keep their buffer in the Australian conference race.

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 THE ACT Brumbies are perfectly positioned to break a Super Rugby finals hoodoo, but they had to survive a big scare and a second-half fade to keep their buffer in the Australian conference race.

The end ... Nathan Sharpe runs through a banner with his children ahead of his last game in Perth.

The end ... Nathan Sharpe runs through a banner with his children ahead of his last game in Perth. Photo: Getty Images

While the Brumbies restored their lead at the top of the table with the 28-17 win over the Western Force at nib Stadium last night, coach Jake White hopes the ''slack'' second half serves as the wake-up call his team needs to be a genuine title contender.

The Brumbies put on a first-half clinic and ran in four unanswered tries before enduring a nervous comeback as the Force threatened to derail their campaign. In the end they escaped with a bonus-point win and now need just six points from their remaining two games to make the finals for the first time since 2004.

White wanted his team to make a statement to the rest of the competition. The only problem was the statement lasted for just 40 minutes.

Jesse Mogg of the Brumbies takes a high ball. Click for more photos

Brumbies spoil Sharpe's party

All the action from the Western Force's round 16 Super Rugby clash against the ACT Brumbies at nib Stadium. The Brumbies won 28-17. Photo: Getty Images

''I think we [were] slack, showed a bit of inexperience and probably thought we had done enough [to win the game],'' White said. ''It's a good lesson for us as a group, not only for this year but for every year.

''There's a lot of lessons there and things we should have done in the first half to make sure we never gave them a sniff. The one thing we're fortunate to have is that we can control our own destiny … it's do or die for us every weekend. We've got five weeks left and if we win every game, we win the championship.''

The Force went close to causing a major upset and blowing the Australian conference wide open as they attempted to send veteran Nathan Sharpe out as a winner in his last home game.

Force captain David Pocock lamented his side's slow start and admitted it cost his team the game.

''We gave them too much possession and territory in the first half - credit to the Brumbies on the way they started,'' Pocock said. ''But that was very disappointing from us. We shouldn't have let it get to that.''

Any thoughts the three-week international break would halt the Brumbies' momentum were dispelled in the first two minutes when Jesse Mogg sliced through the Force defence to score the first try.

Jake White's men had 80 per cent possession for the first 11 minutes and the Force defence cracked again when prop Ben Alexander barged over from close range.

Earlier, the Hurricanes beat the Crusaders 23-22 in Christchurch in one of the season's biggest upsets.

BRUMBIES 28 (Ben Alexander, Zack Holmes, Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight tries Holmes con 2 pens) bt WESTERN FORCE 17 (Nick Cummins 2, Toby Lynn tries David Harvey con) at nib Stadium. Referee: Ian Smith. Crowd: 13,571.

 

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