Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham insists he’s not getting carried away just yet despite his team’s perfect start to the Super Rugby season.
The Brumbies are the early favourites to win this year’s title after starting their season with three straight wins, including Friday night’s 31-14 triumph over the Force in Perth.
Next up for the Brumbies is a tricky tour of South Africa, where they’ll take on the Stormers and Cheetahs.
Larkham was pleased with his team’s gritty four-tries-to-two win over the Force, but he knows there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
“We’ve certainly had a good start to the competition, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to play well in your next game,” Larkham said.
“We’ve got some work to do. The set piece tonight was better than last week, but we’ve got a long way to go in this competition.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve lost some really tight games, and that’s hurt us in the finals period. The challenge for us is to keep the mindset on the next game.”
Brumbies flanker David Pocock was left with a suspected broken nose after being clobbered in a heavy tackle by Force hooker Heath Tessmann.
Pocock returned to the field and produced several crucial breakdown turnovers to help keep the dogged Force at bay.
Some Brumbies players thought they had secured a bonus point after Josh Mann-Rea registered the team’s fourth try of the night after the final siren.
But under this year’s rules, teams need to have scored at least three more tries than the opposition to secure the bonus point, meaning the Brumbies were still one try short.
Larkham found the situation slightly amusing, saying he was happy just to walk away with the win.
The Force were left with another major injury worry after flyhalf Jono Lance came off in the second half with a busted left shoulder.
Scans will determine the extent of the damage, with Peter Grant set to be thrust into the No.10 jersey for upcoming games against the Hurricanes, Chiefs, and Highlanders in New Zealand.
Force coach Michael Foley said scrumhalf Ian Prior was a chance to be used as a reserve flyhalf to help fill the void left by Lance.
“He played some 10 in the trials, and some 10 in the NRC,” Foley said.
The Force were gusty against the Brumbies, but some sloppy work at the line-outs and scrum cost them dearly.
Trailing 17-0 after just 22 minutes, the Force could have easily given up.
But they fought hard to get back into the match, and had the chance to close the gap to just three points with eight minutes remaining when they twice had a line-out close to the try line.
But the Brumbies stole the ball on both occasions to snuff out the Force’s challenge.