Rathbone scores in Brumbies win
Clyde Rathbone made a victorious return to the playing field when he scored for the Brumbies in a 20-18 pre-season win over the Western Force.
Clyde Rathbone made a victorious return to the playing field when he scored for the Brumbies in a 20-18 pre-season win over the Western Force at Marrara Rugby Park in Darwin on Friday.
Rathbone, who retired in 2009 due to injuries and suffered depression while away from the game, showed power to score Brumbies' second try.
The 31-year-old Rathbone, a Wallabies wing before his time away from the game, showed no signs of the persistent injuries that prematurely put his career on hold.
The Western Force launched a late comeback, after trailing 3-17 and later 10-20 - with a late missed conversion robbing them of a possible draw.
In their first outing since the off-season overhaul of the side, the Western Australians - boasting 13 new faces in their 31-man squad - had a last-minute opportunity to claim the win, only to see replacement inside centre Kyle Godwin's long-range penalty attempt waved away.
The performance - led by lock Hugh McMeniman in his first match back from Japan - was a far cry from the 25-0 result in the corresponding match last year, with the Force clawing back from a 14-point quarter-time deficit to give themselves an opportunity to snatch the win at the death.
Western Force coach Michael Foley said he was pleased with the development of his new side throughout the match.
"In the first 20 minutes the Brumbies looked like a side that had played together for 12 months and by the second 20 we were back into them, had more control of the game and were able to create some problems for them," he said.
"When you go on the field against a well-groomed side like the Brumbies and they're able to put you under pressure, we didn't have combinations or the intuition that you have when you've played a lot of time together.
"However, that understanding was progressing in front of our eyes as the game was continuing. By the second quarter almost every aspect of our game was better than it was in the first 20. There was probably a lot of nerves and a lack of combination early but to see them improving within the first game - which can often take two or three games - is very pleasing."
Western Force flyhalf Sias Ebersohn opened the scoring for the match when he booted an early penalty goal, only to have the Brumbies respond with a try to opposing playmaker Matt Toomua and conversion from Christian Lealiifano.
A Lealiifano penalty goal extended the ACT side's lead to seven before ‘comeback kid' Clyde Rathbone marked his return to rugby with a converted try just prior to the 20-minute break.
Trailing 17-3, the Western Force began the comeback when back-rower Ben McCalman crashed over from short range to score. Ebersohn added the extras for the Force before Lealiifano returned serve with another three-pointer to extend his side's lead to 20-10 at half-time.
Soon after the break, Force scrumhalf Alby Mathewson worked his way over the try line, only to be denied by a desperate Brumbies defence, with Godwin adding the only points for the period through a penalty goal.
Needing to make up seven points in the final stanza, former Australian Sevens representative Junior Rasolea touched down in the corner to bring the Force to within two points, with Godwin's last-ditch penalty attempt ending a promising performance from the Perth-based side.
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Toomua, Rathbone
Cons: Lealiifano 2
Pens: Lealiifano 2
For the Western Force:
Tries: McCalman, Rasolea
Pens: Ebersohn, Godwin
Yellow card: Ruaidhri Murphy (Brumbies, 45 - professional foul)
Brumbies squad: Fotu Auelua, Ben Alexander, Sam Carter, Tom Cox, Robbie Coleman, Ruaidhri Murphy, Peter Kimlin, Christian Lealiifano, Pat McCabe, Stephen Moore, Dan Palmer, Siliva Siliva, Ben Mowen, Jesse Mogg, Andrew Smith, Henry Speight, Matt Toomua, Ita Vaea, Ian Prior, Joseph Tomane, Tevita Kuridrani, Leon Power, Scott Sio, Zack Holmes, Scott Fardy, Jordan Smiler, David Pocock, Ruan Smith, Stephan van der Walt, Mark Swanepoel, Clyde Rathbone, Joshua Mann-Rea, Colby Faingaa, Nic White.
Western Force squad: Chris Alcock, Phoenix Battye, Corey Brown, Richard Brown, Nathan Charles, Sam Christie, Angus Cottrell, Pek Cowan, Patrick Dellit, Sias Ebersohn, Tetera Faulkner, Kyle Godwin, Jayden Hayward, Matt Hodgson (captain), Kieran Longbottom, Toby Lynn, Salesi Ma'afu, Alfie Mafi, Alby Mathewson, Locky McCaffrey, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Junior Rasolea, Mick Snowden, Winston Stanley, Ed Stubbs, Heath Tessmann, Chris Tuatara-Morrison, Will Tupou, Rory Walton, Sam Wykes.
Referee: Andrew Lees
Assistant referees: Will Houston, Jake Barlow