May the Force be with you … Will Genia is leaving the Reds at the end of the season. Photo: Getty Images
The Western Force were unable to use the Will Genia signing to motivate them to beat the Stormers, but at least elsewhere Australian teams have gone up a level and rediscovered how to win offshore.
The Australian contingent have had to wait until the 10th week of the tournament to return from overseas boasting victory, following the Reds' triumph over the Blues in Auckland and the Brumbies being successful in Johannesburg against the Lions.
These away victories puts extra pressure on the Waratahs during their South African tour next month when they play the Stormers in Cape Town and Cheetahs in Bloemfontein - especially as the seven points the Brumbies accumulated in the Republic could easily lead to them winning the Australian conference.
While the win over the Lions was important, as crucial was their excellent comeback against the Bulls the previous round, where they scored five tries to two, providing them with two important bonus points. As many Australian teams have discovered, returning with anything from South Africa is a plus. Stand-in Brumbies captain Stephen Moore said after the Lions triumph: ''I don't think I've ever come to South Africa and gone home with seven points … I'm over the moon.''
The Brumbies showed great discipline at Ellis Park, especially as some of their opponents - in particular former Springboks five-eighth Butch James - lost the plot and went for the cheap shot. James was lucky to escape with a yellow card when he charged into a ruck and tried to take out Brumbies second-rower Scott Fardy with a swinging arm. James was yesterday suspended for four weeks after pleading guilty of dangerous charging into a ruck.
The Reds' victory over the Blues was tempered by Genia's announcement that he will head to the Force next season, but at least they quickly secured his back-up, announcing yesterday that Ben Lucas, who was outstanding at No.10 in Auckland, had been re-signed.
The best comeback of the round goes to the Highlanders who defeated the Cheetahs 36-33 in Bloemfontein yesterday after being behind 30-9 in the second half.
The Cheetahs led the Highlanders until the final minute and had the chance to win the game with a penalty in front of the goalposts that was hooked by their kicker Sias Ebersohn. Shortly after the Cheetahs were penalised at the breakdown, and Highlanders replacement Chris Noakes kicked the winning penalty.
The Chiefs continue to be the standout team, winning their eighth straight game when downing the Hurricanes.