The ACT Brumbies have boosted their hopes of topping Super Rugby’s Australian conference with a bonus point 33-20 victory over the Western Force at nib Stadium.
David Pocock scored a hat-trick against his former club in the victory on Friday night, which also secured the Brumbies’ place in the finals.
Chasing a four-try bonus point win to maintain the pressure on the NSW Waratahs, the Brumbies had three tries within half an hour.
The result sees the ACT move to 47 points, five ahead of the Waratahs, who play the Cheetahs in South Africa on Saturday.
It was a poor night for the error-riddled Force, who did manage two late consolation tries to give their home fans something to cheer about in their final home game of a disappointing season.
The Brumbies showed intent early, with Joe Tomane coming close, before ex-Force flanker Pocock opened the scoring.
The ACT capitalised on a Force penalty for a collapsing maul, driving forward from the line-out for Pocock to cross.
The hosts hit back with two penalty kicks from Zack Holmes reducing the deficit to a solitary point, but it didn’t last as the errors crept in.
Fly-half Christian Lealiifano added a converted try for the Brumbies, scooting past Marcel Brache on the outside to cross in the corner.
The ACT had a third try inside the half hour, executing another driving maul with Pocock waltzing over, as Steve Mafi was sin binned.
The Brumbies led 21-6 at halftime and the second stanza was a flat affair until Allan Alaalatoa scored the team’s crucial fourth try in the 60th minute after a wave of pressure.
Pocock completed his hat-trick on 66 minutes, before the Force responded when Tetera Faulkner bundled the ball over the line.
The Force gave their fans some more late joy when Luke Morahan broke through for a try in the final five minutes.