|Brumbies v Force: Saturday 7.40pm (AEST)
at GIO Stadium, Canberra
|Best Bet: Brumbies -20.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Score After First Place Kick Brumbies 3-0 ($3.50)
The Brumbies only need to hold their nerve against the struggling Force to seal the Australian Conference title and progress into next week’s playoffs.
After making a return from a knee ailment via club rugby, Brumbies winger Joe Tomane has been ruled out for the rest of the year after aggravating the injury. Meanwhile, the Force continue to battle on without Wallabies loosies Ben McCalman and Matt Hodgson.
The Brumbies hold a 9-4-1 lead in 14 previous clashes with the Force, while the Canberra outfit has suffered just one loss in their last 10 meetings with the Perth side. The Brumbies are 4-2 against the Force at home, and downed the Force 31-14 in Perth in Round 3.
After putting away the Reds 43-24 in Round 15, the Brumbies were humbled 40-15 by the Blues in Auckland in a potentially critical result. They are equal on points with the Waratahs, but their 9-5 record sees them in front with a superior win tally. Their attack is fifth and their defence equal-fourth.
The Force have been dogged in recent weeks, going down to the Cheetahs by a point in Bloemfontein and holding the Stormers to a 22-3 scoreline. With a 2-12 record, the Force have scored the least points in the competition and are ranked 14th in defence.
The steady Jono Lance is finding his feet again in the Force’s No.10 jumper after a long injury layoff, while co-captain Christian Lealiifano is the Brumbies’ linchpin.
Stats That Matter
The Brubmies are 8-6 against the start in 2016, while the Force are 6-8 ATS this year. The Brumbies are 10-5 at home since the start of 2015 (7-8 ATS). The Force have won just four of their last 16 away from home. The Brumbies have won their last five against the Force by margins of 12 points or more. Home sides are 70-52-3 this season (66-60 against the start). Home favourites are 62-21 overall and 48-34 ATS in 2016.
The Brumbies will know the equation for them to clinch a finals berth after the Waratahs take on the Blues on Friday, but it’s hard to see them not cruising to a bonus-point win here regardless of what’s required. The Force just can’t score points against quality defences, and they’re being comprehensively outmuscled in the pack. Back the Brumbies against the points start with confidence.
The Way It’s Shaping
Brumbies by 26
Brumbies -20.5 ($1.90)