Force in a deep 'hole' ... again
REACTION: The Western Force’s return to Super Rugby has been a bit of a damp squib, one that raised more questions about their future.
The undefeated Brumbies moved back to the top of the Super Rugby AU ladder, following a 24-0 win over the Western Force.
They top the five-team ladder with 14 points from three games, four ahead of the Reds – with the winless Force anchored at the bottom.
After the pre-tournament hype, the Force have managed a solitary losing bonus point from their first three matches and the flogging at the hands of the Brumbies did not aid their cause at a time when questions are being asked about the quality of Australian rugby.
Depending on which grapevine you follow, New Zealand are looking at between one and three teams in their revamped model for 2021.
The Australians are, understandably, up in arms.
But the Kiwis have a good argument about the ‘quality’ (or lack thereof) of the Australian teams.
All Black Jeremy Thrush, the stand-in skipper for the Force in Sydney on Saturday, admitted his team has a lot of ground to make up.
“It was a physical game out there,” Thrush said of the four-tries-to-nil mauling.
The ACT side never looked back after opening with two long-range tries in the opening five minutes – as they completed a clean sweep of victories over their four Australian rivals in 2020.
“It was an unfortunate start for us, I guess, with back-to-back tries,” Thrush said, adding: “It put us in a bit of a hole that we tried to get out of.
“It shows you where the benchmark is with the Brumbies and where we need to get to.
“But I was still proud of the boys’ effort. We kept fighting.”
Force coach Tim Sampson is confident good times lie ahead for his team.
“They were resilient,” Sampson said.
“That’s something you’ll always get out of this group – they won’t give up.
“It’s just about adding some polish to some parts of our game and I know a win’s just around the corner.”
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Chuffed Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said the most pleasing aspect of the win was being the first team to keep the Force scoreless in Super Rugby since 2007.
“There were some periods there where we were under the pump but we adjusted. Very pleased,” he said.
The ACT outfit made a lightning start, with wing Tom Wright finishing off a dazzling 75-metre try after just 80 seconds.
The Brumbies’ second five-pointer, an 88-metre effort completed by Simone, was even better.
“A couple of really good tries. It was just pleasing to see the boys using their skills, which we encourage them to do, and they did it well,” McKellar said.
Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa echoed similar sentiments.
“The best thing was how we started both halves and then it was backed up by good defence, so really proud of the boys,” Alaalatoa said.
“I think our big improvement was our defence, to keep [a clean sheet] you’ve got to be proud of the effort.
“That’s something we’ll continue to build on for next week.”