Solomone Kata has been granted a release from his Super Rugby contract with the Brumbies so he can remain in New Zealand for family reasons.
The Honey Badger might have starred with a try from just his second touch, but it wasn’t enough for the Western Force to prevent the Brumbies from claiming a 27-15 bonus point win at Canberra Stadium.
Playing his first Super Rugby game since returning from Japan, Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins wasted no time putting his best foot forward for World Cup selection.
Down 7-0 on Friday after an early try to the Brumbies’ Rory Arnold, Cummins fought his way past three Brumbies defenders in an area no bigger than a Japanese sleeping capsule to score centimetres from the corner post.
Alas, the Aussie larrikin’s return to Super Rugby finished in a very similar vein to how it ended in 2014, with the Brumbies claiming a bonus point win – their 10th consecutive at home.
Possession was fairly even, but the Brumbies were just too clinical and made better use of their width to chew up metres down the Force’s flanks.
Wing weapons Joe Tomane, who scored the Brumbies’ second try, and Henry Speight, who set up man-of-the-match Ben Alexander’s try, both enjoyed open air from early breaks.
Once again the Brumbies turned down more than a half-dozen shots at goal to use their maul as an attacking weapon and once again, it paid dividends.
Arnold opened the scoring in the seventh minute after one lineout drive was brought down just metres short, while halfback Nic White crossed over in similar fashion for the fourth try bonus point in the 48th.
The Force meanwhile impressed with their ball retention close to the ruck and finished strongly.
On four occasions they strung close to 20 phases together, the first of which led to Cummins’ try, and the third resulting in lock Steve Mafi pick and driving over in the 56th minute.
Brumbies reserve fullback Jesse Mogg was a late withdrawal, and with starting fullback Robbie Coleman limping off the field late, it may pose problems ahead of next week’s clash against the Reds in Brisbane.
The result sees the Brumbies extend their lead at the top of the Australian conference, while the fourth-placed Force will need to bounce back against the Rebels next week to stay in the hunt.