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Hookers steal the show as Force edge Brumbies in thriller

By AAP
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.

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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.

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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
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

Not a fan of your picks. McReight is good at club level but he is too small for international level and has consistently disappointed there. Better to go for larger guys. Kemeney, Valentini, Hooper, Leota, Samu, Swinton, etc. Aalatoa and Nonga are woeful scrummagers and don’t offer much around the field. Wallabies will not win if the scrum falls to pieces. The fact that Faamissli hasn’t been developed is a tragedy. Need a scrum that doesn’t give away penalties. So looks like a Talakai maybe instead. Best scrummagers need to be selected. McDermott runs the ball too much and doesn’t fit into a structured attack like Schmidts. Gets isolated too often. Ok off the bench late but not for 60 mins. Goal kicking has to be one of the top 3 points for a 10 so that does in Gordon and O’Connor. Be better off going for lynagh on that front. Donaldson and Noah seem to be doing best of the established names. QC a better mentor type guy than OConnor as well if he’s playing. Daugunu has been the most consistent 13 and breaks the line a lot so must be in the squad. Joost has also been good. Richie Arnold playing well for Toulouse and is a preeminent lineout jumper so needs to be in. Latu also playing well for La Rochelle and is better scrummager than the Aussie choices so should be in. The big guy at the Tahs Amataroso I think it is needs to be developed as well. Otherwise the team will be too small. Hodge is a better choice at fullback than Wright. Latter makes too many mistakes. Not sure if Hodge available.

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Turlough 6 hours ago
Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss

First of all: hats off to Toulouse an outstanding performance. Duponts kicking was phenomenal. Twice he challenged Keenan with amazing clearances from his 22 in extra time. Result was territory deep in Leinster half in the early part of extra time which lead to 2 penalties and the game. Remember also his two 50:22s? Now to Willis/Dupont. ANY slight isolation by a Leinster player resulted in a turnover penalty. How many turnovers in the Toulouse 22? Leinster’s defense was immense, they had opportunities in attack but they honestly looked like they had not spent enough time passing the ball in the training in the weeks preceding the final. Game management was poor. Toulouse’s scrum had crumbled. At 15-15 Leinster had a scrum advantage in a position that would be kickable for a scrum penalty. Leinster played on and missed a long range drop goal. You MUST take the scrum surely? Win penalty and its a shot at goal to win with time up. No penalty and you can attack and drop goal whatever. The distance from sideline penalties from Byrne was shocking. If you are kicking the line you must get close to that 5 metre line. How many times were Leinster forced to maul from 10-15 metres? Toulouse KNEW Leinster was going to kick and maul and clearly spent considerable training time neutralizing thuis threat. The maul was starting too far out, Toulouse were able to stop the heart of the drive. You must change tack and start kicking for goals. That said it always felt like Toulouse were the potent team on the day with Leinster under pressure and chasing. Even with their backline completely disrupted, Toulouse found a way. 9 Wins in their last 9 finals. Leinster will be there next year. But so will Toulouse/Northhampton etc. A great era of club rugby.

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