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Brumbies' title defence on track after downing Kearney-less Force

The champions earned a tough 21-9 victory at GIO Stadium in today’s semi-final.

Tom Wright of the Brumbies celebrates with team-mates after scoring a try against the Force.
Tom Wright of the Brumbies celebrates with team-mates after scoring a try against the Force.
Image: AAP/PA Images

REIGNING CHAMPIONS ACT Brumbies kept alive their Super Rugby AU title defence on Saturday with a tough 21-9 victory over the Western Force at GIO Stadium.

The Brumbies, the power club of the Australian competition, scored the only two tries in a hard-fought qualifying final.

They will face regular season league leaders Queensland Reds in a grand final re-match in Brisbane on 8 May.

The Brumbies outlasted their arch-rivals 28-23 in last year’s decider but narrowly fell short in two epic contests against the Reds in their only defeats this season.

They will be sweating the fitness of star duo Folau Fainga’a and Peter Samu, who both exited with injuries.

“It was very physical and the Force defended really well but there is a lot we can build on for next week,” Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa said.

The much-improved Force, who were winless last year in their return to the competition, were a revelation after securing a finals berth for the first time in the franchise’s 16-year history. Former Ireland fullback Rob Kearney played a significant role in that run but missed out on today’s defeat through injury.

The Force fell short against the Brumbies for the third time this season.

“It’s great to have created some history but we’re not going to be happy with this defeat and we will go back to the drawing board,” Force captain Kyle Godwin said.

Hot favourites the Brumbies, who thrive around a strong set-piece and rolling maul, came out aggressively but were thwarted by the Force’s dour defence.

The visitors held on gamely and forced the star-studded Brumbies into uncharacteristic errors.

Pressure mounted on the Brumbies, who continually turned down penalty kicks in a bid for tries.

Against the tide, the Force finally opened the scoring in the 34th minute when Domingo Miotti nailed a penalty.

The Brumbies hit back when winger Tom Wright found a rare hole in the Force’s defence and crossed in the left corner.

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The Force’s bid for a major upset took a hit when Toni Pulu received a red card for a dangerous tackle just before half-time and was sent to the sin bin for 20 minutes.

The Brumbies capitalised when Tom Banks finished off slick passing with a try.

The Force bravely resisted the Brumbies avalanche but rarely threatened to make inroads.

Ryan Lonergan made them pay with two late penalties to book the Brumbies a date with the Reds.

The Force will next be action in the inaugural Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, which kicks off on 14 May and involves the professional teams from Australia and New Zealand.

© – AFP, 2021

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