Brumbies secure play-off berth
The Brumbies made sure of their place in the Super Rugby play-offs with a 47-25 thrashing of Western Force in Canberra.
Matt Toomua grabbed a hat-trick for the home side, who outscored their opponents seven tries to three and could have passed the 50-point mark had Christian Lealiifano been more accurate with the boot.
Defeat ended Western Force's own hopes of a top-six finish, however, with some poor defending costing them dearly at the GIO Stadium.
The Brumbies were on the board after just six minutes when Toomua dived in at the corner for the first try of the match.
Lealiifano was wide with the conversion, while Jayden Hayward wasted a chance to get the Force's first points soon after when he was also wayward with a penalty.
Lealiifano had greater success with a kick of his own after 14 minutes as the Brumbies moved 8-0 ahead, only for Hayward to reduce the arrears with two quick-fire penalties as Western Force finally got off the mark.
However, the Brumbies simply cranked up the pressure and after Lealiifano had landed another kick, Toomua grabbed his second try in the 26th minute having evaded Nick Cummins before dotting down.
Lealiifano failed to add the extras but the Brumbies crossed again eight minutes later, with Clyde Rathbone playing in Jesse Mogg out wide for the try. The conversion was again off target but the hosts nevertheless held a healthy 21-6 lead at half-time.
There was no respite for the Force after the interval and they found themselves even further behind three minutes into the half when Henry Speight finished a fine move by crashing over in the corner for the bonus-point try, which was converted by Lealiifano.
This time the visitors were able to respond and a patient drive forward allowed Pek Cowan to cross for their first try, converted by Hayward, while the loss of Jarrad Butler to the sin bin simply added to the Brumbies' frustration.
Any hopes the Force had of clawing back the points were extinguished within a minute though, as the 14-man hosts set up Toomua to race away down the wing for his hat-trick. Lealiifano slotted the conversion to give them a 35-13 lead.
The visitors refused to go down without a fight and Chris Tuatara-Morrison crossed for their second try after 62 minutes, but a defensive error then allowed Joe Tomane to race for the line and score, with Lealiifano's conversion giving the Brumbies their highest score of the season so far.
Zack Holmes notched a third try for the Force eight minutes from time, converted by Sias Ebersohn, but fittingly it was the Brumbies who had the final say when Tom McVerry crossed in the final minutes to wrap up a resounding win.