Injury time penalty keeps force finals hopes alive
A penalty three minutes into injury time by flyhalf Domingo Miotti gave the Sea of Blue a 31-30 triumph over the Waratahs in a highly entertaining Super Rugby AU clash in front of 9,253 fans at HBF Park to keep their finals hopes alive.
It was the Force’s first Super Rugby AU win at home and lifts them into third place in the table with one match left to play against the Queensland Reds.
Head coach Tim and captain Kyle Godwin were ecstatic following the victory.
“It was a rollercoaster tonight. We showed great composure at the end, which was outstanding,” Sampson said.
“It’s a great result, super proud of the boys,” Godwin explained.
“Our main focus now is to get the win against the Reds next week,” he added.
The Force started strongly and took a 7-0 lead after less than five minutes through a try by prop and former Waratah Tom Robertson. Kicking for touch from a penalty, the Force controlled the ball through several phases to create the scoring chance for the front-rower. Miotti added the extra two points.
Waratahs flanker Lachie Swinton was yellow carded for the penalty offence, a dangerous tackle on Force winger Jordan Olowofela, leaving the visitors a man short.
The Force were intent on making the most of their numerical advantage and quickly got back into Waratahs’ territory, keeping their opponents under pressure to secure a penalty, which Miotti kicked to extend the lead to 10-0 after eight minutes.
The Waratahs reduced the deficit to three points seven minutes later when number eight Will Harris scored a try after they had kept the Force under pressure inside their 22.
The Force almost struck back from the restart, lock Jeremy Thrush charging down a kick from the base of the ruck by Waratahs scrumhalf Jake Gordon, then chasing and dotting down over the try line, but the try was disallowed with Thrush deemed not to be in control of the ball.
After 22 minutes, the Waratahs levelled the scores at 10-all with a penalty by Donaldson after the Force were caught offside in broken play.
The Force restored their lead three minutes later when hooker Feleti Kaitui’u exploited a gap in a retreating Waratahs defence and ran 25 metres to score after some powerful play by the Force forwards in open play to give the hosts a 15-10 lead.
The Force continued to make good use of their possession, launching successive attacks at the Waratahs line with a committed defensive effort by the visitors holding them at bay. They were eventually rewarded for their territorial dominance in the 34th minute when Miotti kicked a superb drop goal to move the score to 18-10, a lead they held at half-time.
Within eight minutes of the restart, the Waratahs moved into an 18-24 lead with two tries in quick succession. The first was scored by fullback Jack Maddocks, who rounded off in the corner after some strong build-up play, and the second by winger Alex Newsome who cut inside to breach the defence after the Waratahs has gone wide down the right. Donaldson converted both tries.
With both teams increasing the pace and intensity of the game, Miotti was successful with a penalty in the 51st minute to reduce the Waratahs lead to 21-24. However, two penalties in as many minutes saw the Waratahs move into a nine-point lead at 21-30 as the game entered its final 10 minutes.
The Force hit back swiftly, winning a penalty outside the Waratahs 22, securing the resulting lineout, and drawing in the Waratahs defence to create space out wide for Olowofela to score his first try in Force colours right in the corner. Miotti added the conversion to leave the Force two points adrift at 28-30 to set up a massive finish in front of a roaring home crowd.
The Force refused to give up as the clock wound down. With a minute remaining, they held the ball for four minutes and through 18 phases in injury time to eventually secure the penalty.
Miotti stepped up and slotted it straight through the middle to seal a memorable win to keep the fight for finals alive.
The Force is back at HBF Park next Friday night against the undefeated Reds. We are looking for another strong home crowd to help lift the team to another win as we hunt for a place in the finals. Be there, bring your mates – grab your tickets by clicking HERE.
Western Force – Tries: Tom Robertson, Feleti Kaitu’u, Jordan Olowofela. Conversions: Domingo Miotti (2). Penalties: Miotti (3), Drop-goal: Miotti
Waratahs – Try: Will Harris, Jack Maddocks, Alex Newsome. Conversions: Ben Donaldson (3). Penalties: Donaldson (3).
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