Force spirit shines in frustrating loss to Waratahs
The Western Force went down 28-8 to the Waratahs in the Round 7 Super Rugby AU clash at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, despite dominating play in the second half.
The Force were undone by a Waratahs team that made the most of its opportunities in an entertaining clash.
The Waratahs led 16-8 at the break after dominating both territory and possession in a first half that saw the lead change hands four times.
With both sides showing attacking intent from the start, the NSW side opened the scoring in the ninth minute through a penalty by flyhalf Will Harrison. The Force responded well to take a 5-3 lead seven minutes later when number eight Brynard Stander scored a try in the corner after some quick recycling from broken play. Scrumhalf Ian Prior opted to take the short side from a ruck, finding inside centre Richard Kahui who put in a clever grubber kick for Stander to chase and score.
Harrison restored the Waratahs’ lead at 6-5 with a second penalty midway through the first half, but the Force regained the advantage at 8-6 in the 27th minute when Prior kicked a penalty after the Waratahs were penalised for a scrum collapse.
With the Waratahs increasing first-half dominance putting the Force defence under pressure, they were able to create two scoring chances in the space of four minutes in the closing stages of the half.
The Force started the second half positively, moving the ball at pace and changing the angle of attack to get across the gain line. Unfortunately, Waratahs fullback Jack Maddocks intercepted a long pass from Jono Lance and ran 60 metres to score. Harrison added the conversion to put the Waratahs 23-8 ahead six minutes after the restart.
Undaunted by the setback against the run of play, the Force dominated the scrums to enjoy a period of sustained pressure in the Waratahs’ half. However, the team was unable to convert the dominance into points despite playing some very entertaining rugby.
The away side were forced to resort to counter-attack to quell the Force fire, with two tries disallowed in the second half for players being in front of the ball on attack.
After more than 30 minutes without points being scored, a final counter by the Waratahs saw them add a third try in the final minute through replacement prop Harry Johnson-Holmes.
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