The ACT Brumbies showed why they are one of the favourites to take the 2016 Super Rugby title with an impressive 31-14 win over the Western Force in Perth on Friday.
The Force, competition wooden spooners last season, were coming off an encouraging win over the Queensland Reds, but were totally dominated by the Brumbies when the match was in the balance.
The first 30 minutes of the match were controlled by the Brumbies, who ran in two early tries to take a stranglehold on the contest and made it three wins in succession to start the season.
After Christian Lealiifano got the Brumbies rolling with an early penalty, the visitors quickly threatened the try line only to be foiled by a knock-on.
The sustained pressure of the Brumbies was always going to pay off eventually and they got their chance when the Force’s Pek Cowan was sin-binned in the 14th minute as the home side paid the price for a spate of penalties.
Within moments of the resumption the visitors drove over with a rolling maul for the opening try to Brumbies skipper Stephen Moore, his second of the season.
Things got worse for the Force in the 22nd minute, with Scott Fardy bursting through their defence and offloading to Matt Toomua for a simple try.
A rout was looming with the Force barely able to get their hands on the ball, but a rare stint in possession turned into points when Jono Lance put Luke Morahan through for the home team’s first try in the 33rd minute against the run of play.
The Brumbies all but sealed the win in the 55th minute, when Joe Tomane burst through the defence to score their third try as they took a commanding 24-7 lead.
The Force got a late consolation try through Ben Tapuai, but the Brumbies answered after the final hooter through Josh Mann-Rea with their fourth try for the evening.
Moore said the game was closer than the scoreboard indicated.
“It was a very physical game,” he said.
“I’ll be sore tomorrow, but happy to get that win to start a three-game tour for us.”
Force captain Matt Hodgson said his side started too slowly against a quality opponent.
“We were in the whole game except for that first 20 minutes,” he said.
“The last 60 minutes we were very good.”