VIDEO: Brumbies book home Final
SUPER RUGBY AU REPORT: The Brumbies advanced directly to the Final with a comprehensive 31-14 win over the Western Force in Canberra on Friday.
The five tries to two bonus-point win ensure the Brumbies will host the Final in Canberra on September 19.
However, they still have a big league fixture next week, when they face the Reds in Brisbane.
Then they will sit back and watch two teams smash each other for the right to face them in the grand finale.
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The Brumbies moved to 28 competition points on the back of the win to secure the decider, seven points clear of nearest rivals Queensland, who have a bye this round, with only a maximum of five points on offer in the final regular match.
The leading side will advance straight through to host the grand final on Sept 19 against the winner of the qualifying final between the second and third placed teams the week prior.
“It’s really special [to host the grand finale],” Brumbies skipper Allan Alaalatoa said.
“We try not to think about that and try to execute our game plan but we need to continue to build momentum next week against the Reds.”
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While the Brumbies may have clinched the result they were after, they were made to work for it by the fearless West Australian side who scored first in the eighth minute through Fergus Lee-Warner.
The home side really only broke free in the 65th minute when replacement back Len Ikitau scored for a 22-14 lead, with winger Andy Muirhead crossing late for their fifth try to secure a bonus point.
The Brumbies led 10-7 at half-time, with classy Wallabies halfback Nic White a stand-out after replacing Joe Powell early in the second half.
White fired a pass for a 50-minute try to flanker Will Miller and then put Ikitau across when he took control with a quick tap before finding his man, with the Force defence caught short.
Amy Perrett, the first female to referee a Super Rugby match, had her hands full in the first half when the Brumbies had two tries disallowed within two minutes for a knock-on and then obstruction.
They got third time lucky four minutes later through Tom Wright to trail 5-7 and edged ahead just before halftime when fullback Tom Banks scored his first try of the Super Rugby AU.
Force skipper Ian Prior lamented another fade-out but was pleased with the way they responded after a 52-point thrashing by Queensland.
“We were pretty gutted with the result tonight – same thing again – a couple of crucial penalties there …swings the momentum of the game,” Prior said.
“I’m really proud of the effort the boys showed as we were hurting after last week’s result and I’m really proud of the way we bounced back.”
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Wright, Banks, Miller, Ikitau, Muirhead
Cons: Kuenzle 3
For the Western Force:
Tries: Lee-Warner, Lance
Cons: Prior 2
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Solomone Kata, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Bayley Kuenzle, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Will Miller, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Murray Douglas, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Connal McInerney, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Rob Valetini, 21 Nic White, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Len Ikitau.
Western Force: 15 Jack McGregor, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Brad Lacey, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior (captain), 8 Henry Stowers, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Tom Sheminant, 19 Tevin Ferris, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Richard Kahui, 23 Jake Strachan.
Referee: Amy Perrett
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Reuben Keane
TMO: Graham Cooper