Brumbies stunned by Western Force

The Western Force upset the Brumbies and ended a team hoodoo with a 25-16 win in their Super 14 clash on Saturday.

With winger Cameron Shepherd scoring three tries, the Force looked a much more cohesive unit than the one that just edged past the Cheetahs at home last weekend, running in the first three tries of the match on the way to an overdue first away win in Australia.

It was an extremely timely win for the Force, who claimed a bonus point and went to 2-1 ahead of successive games in New Zealand against the Chiefs and Crusaders.

For the Brumbies, who were short-priced favourites for the match and were fielding the same 22 that beat the Crusaders and Highlanders, it was their first loss of 2009 after opening the season with successive wins and they never looked sharp.

They could at least console themselves with the fact that one of the most influential players for the Force was Wallabies fly-half Matt Giteau, who spearheaded a dangerous Force backline, but earlier this week announced he was returning to the Brumbies in 2010.

Giteau didn’t do any favours for his next employer and was a key contributor to the Force’s first two tries.

While his opposite number, Christian Lealiifano, was having an ordinary night, particularly with the boot, Giteau showed what the Brumbies have to look forward to next season.

Giteau’s incisive long pass in the 27th minute to Ryan Cross set up an easy first phase try to Shepherd, who had to pass a fitness test on his ankle to play.

However, it was the Brumbies that led 9-8 at half-time, thanks to three penalties to Mark Gerrard, despite the Force enjoying 62 per cent of the possession.

After the break, the Force started convert their dominance into points. Shepherd made it a brace when he again combined with Giteau, after quick hands from lock Nathan Sharpe, in the 44th minute as the Force grabbed the lead.

When the video referee confirmed the Force’s Richard Brown had grounded the ball for another try in the 50th minute and Giteau duly converted, the visitors led 20-9 and the upset was looming.

A penalty try against the Force scrum in the 65th minute briefly revived the Brumbies’ hopes and closed the gap to 20-16.

But just three minutes later, Shepherd slammed the door shut again when he got on the end of a pass from Drew Mitchell, tipped to follow Giteau to the Brumbies next year, to score in the corner and extend the lead to nine points.

Skipper Sharpe said the Force wanted it more than the Brumbies.

“All the boys were fantastic tonight,” he said.

“We just showed a collective will and spirit.

“It was just the commitment and our defence was fantastic.”

Brumbies coach Andy Friend said his side never got out of “third gear” and lacked intensity.


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