BRUMBIES 19 FORCE 17
Christian Lealiifano of the Brumbies feeds the backline. Photo: Getty Images
The Brumbies' new Super Rugby era under Jake White began as planned with a hard-fought 19-17 victory over the Western Force in their season-opener on Friday night.
Trailing 12-9 at halftime, the Brumbies came out revitalised in the second half, scoring two tries and holding the Force back in the final minutes.
Brumbies V Force
Catch all the action from the Canberra Stadium. The Brumbies clung to a two-point lead in a thriller against The Force. Photo: Graham Tidy GGT
It was their first game and first points under White, who took over at the ACT franchise at the end of a disappointing 2011 campaign.
Fielding a new-look and largely green side, the Brumbies had the most to prove in the opening round clash and didn't disappoint the 14,211-strong crowd.
The Brumbies will now be able to start round three with eight points up their sleeve given next weekend's bye - the best possible start to White's new reign.
The opening half was a gritty tug-of-war between two sides keen to start well, but neither could claim an edge in either possession or territory.
The scoreboard was only troubled courtesy of the ref's whistle; the Force's James Stannard finishing the half with four penalties and the Brumbies' Nic White booting three.
Arguably, the Brumbies had the most to prove in the game but, apart from White's on-song penalty goal from 53m out and some impressive breaks from debut winger Jesse Mogg, the home side didn't appear to be delivering.
It took until the second half for the Brumbies to look dangerous and Mogg was the beneficiary five minutes in after accelerating onto a White pass from close range.
It gave the Brumbies back the lead, while another running try to fullback Robbie Coleman just five minutes later gave them back some confidence.
A try to Stannard kept the Force within reach, but they couldn't breach the Brumbies' defence again.
BRUMBIES 19 (Robbie Coleman, Jesse Mogg tries Nic White 3 pens) bt WESTERN FORCE 17 (James Stannard try 4 pens) at Canberra Stadium. Referee: Bryce Lawrence. Crowd: 14,211