History made as Olowofela’s hat-trick secures Semi Final
Three tries by Force Man of the Match Jordan Olowofela inspired the Western Force to a 30-27 victory over the previously undefeated Queensland Reds in tonight’s Super Rugby AU clash at HBF Park. The Western Force have now secured a place in Super Rugby finals for the first time in the club’s history.
The win was achieved despite the Force having to play with 14 men for 30 minutes in a highly competitive encounter. The win secures third place in the Super Rugby AU standings for the Force who have now won their last three consecutive matches. It was also the Reds’ first defeat of the season.
Head coach Tim Sampson said he was immensely proud of the team’s performance.
“It’s one for the history books! The tenacity and composure we showed in the second half was unbelievable,” he explained.
Captain Kyle Godwin was ecstatic after the final whistle.
“We’ve done the fans proud tonight,” Godwin said.
Hunter Paisami opened the scoring for the Reds in the fifth minute after he found a hole in the Force defence 15 metres from the line to slide over for the try. Flyhalf James O’Connor converted to give the Reds a 0-7 lead.
The Force struck back swiftly in the eighth minute when winger Jordon Olowofela pounced on an intercept by his flyhalf Domingo Miotti just inside his own half, racing 55 meters for the try. Miotti added the extra two points to level the scores at 7-all.
The Reds restored their seven-point advantage in the tenth minute after getting themselves deep into Force territory from the restart. They secured clean ruck ball just outside the Force 22, allowing space for prop Taniela Tupou to collect and make a tackle-breaking run to the line. O’Connor added the conversion.
The visitors added a third try through winger Filipo Daugunu, which was converted by O’Connor to move the score to 7-21 with 24 minutes played.
The Force secured more possession in the latter stages of the first half, taking play through several phases and forcing repeated tackles from the Reds defence to score twice before the break. The first through a penalty kicked by Miotti to move the score to 10-21, and the second through a try by hooker Feleti Kaitu’u, who barged his way over the line after the Force had secured lineout possession five metres from the line. The Force trailed 15-21 at halftime.
The Reds started the second half like the Force had started the first, being reduced to 14 men after winger Jordan Petaia was sent to the bin for a dangerous tackle on Olowofela.
With six minutes played in the second stanza, the Force made their numerical advantage count, as they held the ball through several phases to eventually create space out wide for Olowofela to score his second try. O’Connor and Miotti traded penalties in the 53rd and 56th minutes for the Reds to retain a slender lead at 23-24.
A Reds penalty kicked by O’Connor with 10 minutes remaining extended the Reds’ lead to 23-27.
Force substitute centre Richard Kahui made an immediate impact after coming onto the field in the 76th minute, putting in a well-weighted grubber kick behind the Reds defence for Olowofela to run in his third try of the night. Miotti added the conversion for the Force to take the lead for the first time at 30-27.
Despite a sustained Reds attack on the Force line in the dying stages, the Force defence held firm to secure a historic victory on home soil and a place in the Super Rugby AU Semi Final against the Brumbies in Canberra next Saturday.
Sampson cannot wait for next week’s match-up.
“We’ve played the Brumbies twice this year. We know what their strengths are, so hopefully we can combat that and put in a good performance in chilly Canberra,” he said.
Godwin is full of belief heading into the Semi Final.
“We can go a long way in this competition, and hopefully we’ll do the fans proud again next week against the Brumbies,” the captain added.
Western Force – Tries: Jordan Olowofela (3), Feleti Kaitu’u. Conversions: Domingo Miotti (2). Penalties: Miotti (2).
Reds – Tries: Hunter Paisami, Taniela Tupou, Filipo Daugunu. Conversions: James O’Connor (3). Penalties: O’Connor (2).
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