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Hookers steal the show as Force edge Brumbies in thriller

Aiapeta Ngauamo of the Force celebrates a try with team mates during the round five Super Rugby Women's match between ACT Brumbies and Western Force at Viking Park on April 13, 2024 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

The Western Force will front up to Fijian Drua in the SuperW finals on a high after overcoming a three-try burst from Tania Naden to post a thrilling 38-36 win over the ACT Brumbies in Canberra.


A bonus-point victory in Saturday’s match might have been enough for the Force to nab a home semi-final, but in the end they will have to be content with tackling the Drua – who were surprisingly beaten 34-21 by the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday – in Suva on Friday.

The unbeaten NSW Waratahs finished on top of the table, and will take on the fourth-placed Brumbies at Allianz Stadium in Friday’s other semi-final.

The Force entered their final game of the regular season knowing a finals berth had already been locked up, but they were desperate to snap a two-game losing streak and keep alive their hopes of a home semi-final.

The match turned out to be a try-fest for the hookers.

Brumbies No.2 Naden crossed in the 23rd, 29th and 62nd minutes for a memorable hat-trick.

Not to be outdone, her Force counterpart Hera-Barb Malcolm Heke scored a first-half double, while her replacement, Canada international Sara Cline, also crossed twice.

It meant hookers scored seven of the 11 tries for the match.

The Force raced out to a 17-0 lead, but the Brumbies hit back hard to take the halftime advantage 24-17.


Cline’s second-half double helped turn momentum back the Force’s way, with the visitors holding on despite a 77th-minute try to Brumbies fullback Ashlea Bishop ensuring a nervous finish.

The Brumbies will hope to shake off the loss to the Force when they front up to the in-form Waratahs.

“The agression in our team is really good,” Naden said after her three-try display.

“We’ve got really good connection and culture. We’ve got good skills in our team as well, we just didn’t show it today, unfortunately.

“It’s always a good battle against the Force.”

The Force lost to the Drua 19-5 in Fiji a fortnight ago in wet and muddy conditions and will hope for a more positive outcome next week.




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Abe 1 hours ago
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