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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Brumbies seal home grand final with win over Force

The Plus500 Brumbies have secured top spot and a home grand final defeating the Western Force 31-14 at GIO Stadium. 

Tom Banks was the star for the Brumbies, recording a try and a try assist to earn himself man of the match honours.

Despite coming into the game without a win, it was the Force who started quickly, making the most of early possession dominance to score the first try through lock Fergus Lee-Warner eight minutes in.

The visitors would then continue to keep the Brumbies mostly in their own half, holding 65% territory in the opening 24 minutes of play, giving the Brumbies few opportunities to hit back.  

The home side then had two tries disallowed in a matter of minutes. Skipper Allan Alaalatoa’s effort was called back for a slight knock-on while Andy Muirhead’s wonder finish was denied due to an apparent obstruction in the backfield leading up to the score.   

But it would be a case of third time lucky for the Brumbies, with a bobbled high-ball allowing Will Miller to break through the Force defences, Miller eventually putting Tom Wright in giving the Brumbies their first five pointer 31 minutes in. 

The Brumbies weren’t satisfied with one score before the break. Winning a penalty and going to the corner, the Brumbies whipped the ball wide early to Banks who was simply too quick for the covering Force defence, the fullback crashing over for his first try of Super Rugby AU.  

Kuenzle was however, unsuccessful with the conversion, seeing the Brumbies take a 10-7 lead into the break. 

Having relinquished the lead, the Force came out strong in the second stanza, putting immediate pressure on the Brumbies.  

Good maul defence followed by successive penalties saw the Brumbies march 80 metres up the field.  

Though the Force matched the Brumbies in stopping the rolling drive, replacement halfback Nic White was alive to the opportunity out wide and found Miller for the try.  

Kuenzle got the radar working during the halftime break, kicking an outstanding conversion from the sideline to extend the leas to 17-7.  

The Force hit back almost immediately, Jono Lance breaching the Brumbies defence and with Prior converting, the Force trailed again by just three points 56 minutes in. 

But the Brumbies would follow by being next on the scoresheet, with academy graduate Len Ikitau crossing over for a crucial try.  
Kuenzle would again convert, giving the Brumbies a 24-14 lead with 15 minutes remaining.  

And they would be in again in the 74th minute, with Muirhead this time around getting his try, as the video referee ruled the winger had beaten former Brumby Kyle Godwin to the ball. 

A late flurry from Folau Fainga’a was once again denied by the TMO, but it didn’t matter in the end, the Brumbies running out run out convincing winners, 31-14.  

That victory puts the Brumbies 7 points clear of the second placed Queensland Reds on the ladder and assures them of a home Grand Final on 19 September.

Plus500 Brumbies 31 (T: Tom Wright, Tom Banks, Will Miller, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead; C: Bayley Kuenzle 3; def Western Force 14 (T: Fergus Lee-Warner, Jono Lance; C: Ian Prior 2) 

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