After a fantastic round three of Super Rugby AU, expectations were high to see another weekend of some good high quality rugby that they have struggled to produce. The begin the weekend, the Waratahs took on the Rebels on Friday night and then later on Saturday, the Western Force has their first “home” game against the benchmark Brumbies. The Reds sat this weekend out on the bye. Lets take a look at how it all went down…..
WARATAHS 10 vs 29 REBELS
The SCG looked in prime condition for our weekends opening match, conditions were dry, although it was a little dewy on the grass, it still looked primed for attacking rugby.
It was the Rebels who has first attack at the line, led by a Matt To’omua scything run on half way that set them up into the Waratahs territory and an early offside penalty put the first three points on the board.
The first try came completely against the run of play, the Waratahs getting hammered by penalties early, Alex Newsome with a crucial intercept when faced against a two on one overlap and made the telling play set the home side away for the night to a 7-3 lead.
Those penalties again allowed the Rebels to hit straight back at the posts a couple of times and put them back into the lead by two points before the Waratahs joined the act to see-saw the lead between the sides.
We know how much Angus “Cardner” loves to rip out his yellow cards and this game was no different, Michael Hooper found himself on the wrong side of his team giving away stacks of penalties in their own 22 area and was sent to the bin and gifted the Rebels another three points and the lead once again.
With the man advantage, the Rebels took control of the match up. Camping themselves down in the Waratahs 22 area before eventually crashing over with scrum half Ryan Louwrens off the back of a scrum near the end of the half.
The Rebels were content to play the rest of the half out without causing any trouble and went to the sheds with an impressive lead over the Waratahs at 19-10.
While we at least had some points in the first half, there was nothing of joy from most of the second half. The Rebels were building a small town in the Waratahs 22, they were there that long. A stack of penalties kept mounting up against the Waratahs and eventually there was little choice but send another to the bin, Jed Holloway had been on the field for just seconds before being sent back off. That gave the Rebels three more and a twelve point lead now.
Marika Koroibete had the final say of the match, busting through from the base of a ruck unopposed to seal the Rebels first win of the season. Pushing the score out to a quite comprehensibly victory.
The Waratahs were a mess and the memory of their performance last weekend against the Brumbies is now nothing more than a fluke. Will Harrison is the only guy who looks like doing anything and experienced guys like Michael Hooper, who like many others conceded a stack of penalties, were nowhere to be seen.
The Rebels dominated territory and possession in the second half and did not let the Waratahs play. Their pack carried well and set piece was decent enough. Andrew Deegan made a good bench impact but this was a game of how poor the Waratahs were as opposed to the Rebels being good.
FORCE 0 vs 24 BRUMBIES
It took just over a minute for the Brumbies to show the brilliant hands from deep inside their own area from a defensive scrum. Picked off the back from Pete Samu who somehow found Joe Powell and two or three more hands before they set loose Tom Wright to speed away. From twenty two to try line, it was something special from the Brumbies to light this game up early.
If you want entertained, the Brumbies were here for you this weekend. Stealing a turnover off the Force again inside their twenty two, the overlap out wide set away Pete Samu again, breaking tackles and offloading, Tom Wright on hand drawing the last defenders and finding Irae Simone who strolls in on that left edge for the second time. It was only five minutes in and the Brumbies were setting a clear tone for the match,
After a frantic start, the match died off for the rest of the half. The Force going close on a number of occasions but were unable to turn it into points. The Brumbies hands had left them after that outstanding opening ten minutes as the game turned into an arm wrestle, kicking duel, away from the entertaining counter attack we had early in the game. The Force were happy to go to the sheds as soon as possible, holding the Brumbies out near the end of the half and heading for oranges at a 12-0 scoreline in favour of the Brumbies.
Its been the night of Tom Wright so far and the spark he had in the first half was quickly reignited in the second. After a superb 22/50 kick from Simone, Wright found himself left with too much space which you cant do against a player of his pace and ability. His angle lines had the defence struggling and once on the outside, fed Will Miller who powered through one tackle and slid his way over for the Brumbies third try and put them even further away.
As the game aimlessly wobbled its way towards the final quarter, the Brumbies put away any backline play and locked it in with the forwards. Of course, a lineout maul! Replacement hooker Connal McInerney one hand to grab yet another maul try. This game was long over at this point, the Force trying to do anything they could to gain some points but the Brumbies defence was always too strong so far.
That was about all the highlights the match had, no joy at all for the Western Force. They will be massively disappointed to be kept to nil. The rain that started falling mid way through the first half put a bit of a damper on the whole event and it cost both sides their hands and will to play any running rugby.
The Force had plenty of fight and grit as you would expect, but always chasing the scoreboard saw them turning down shots at goal to try at five instead. Tom Wright stood out for the Brumbies and it was the usual suspects for the Force, the backrow, led by Henry Stowers who was a powerhouse again.
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