First-half blitz wins it for Force

Sat, 08 Mar 2014 10:26
Large force v rebels

The Western Force produced a stunning first-half display to record their first win of the season, beating the Rebels 32-7 in Perth on Saturday.

The Western Force produced a stunning first-half display to record their first win of the season, beating the Rebels 32-7 in Perth on Saturday.

Oft have you heard the cliché 'It's a game of two halves'.

This was not true in Perth when the Force played the Rebels. It was game of one half, and of that half less than a half-an-hour.

After 27 minutes, the Force led the mesmerised Rebels 32-0, The Force did not score again in the match and indeed the only other score came 53 minutes later.

What a difference a week makes! Last week the Brumbies hammered the Force and the Rebels' hammered the Cheetahs. This week the hammered hammered the hammerers.

The thrill of the game was in those first 27 minutes. The rest was a disappointing mishmash of poor handling and clumsiness. There was a fair amount of kicking. The Force did it better in the first half and the Rebels failed to cope with it. It was profitable for the Force. In the second half the kicking was close to meaningless.

In the first half the Force enjoyed a flawless performance by flyhalf Sias Ebersohn. Then he missed a conversion and in the second half two straightforward penalty kicks at goal. He goaled the first five and missed the next three. Instead the Force, sitting on a try bonus point, went for attacking line-outs but made a mess of them.

For Matt Hodgson, the Force captain, it was a golden century experience. He led his team out for his 100th match, he carried his little son onto the field, he scored a try and his team - against all predictions - had a glorious victory. There would have been a lot to celebrate afterwards.

The Force kicked off and two minutes later led 7-0. Sam Wykes won the first line-out, the Force drove the maul and then attacked. From a tackle/ruck five metres from the Rebels' line, Alby Mathewson threw a dummy, darted and scored.

Wykes won the first Rebels' line-out and the Force attacked again.

From a line-out won by Wilhelm Steenkamp, Mathewson kicked high, the Rebels did not cope and Wykes gave to Ebersohn going right. Ebersohn's running was perfect, occupying two defenders before giving to bearded Jayden Hayward who kept defenders busy before releasing to Luke Morahan on the overlap. The right wing scored far put but Ebersohn goaled. 14-0 after 10 minutes.

An Ebersohn kick had the Rebels in trouble again and the Force went through nine phases before they were penalised. Ebersohn goaled. 17-0 after 17 minutes.

The Rebels were not in the game and when Paul Alo-Emile was penalised at a tackle, Ebersohn goaled a long one. 20-0 after 22 minutes.

And still it was not an end as the home side took every 50-50 ball.

Mathewson kicked, Tom Kingston let it bounce and the bounce beat Luke Morahan as well. But Hodgson was on hand to toe the ball ahead, collect the bounce and score a try. 27-0 after 25 minutes.

And still, the rout continued.

Ebersohn kicked high, Angus Roberts did not control the ball and Nick Cummins toed the ball ahead and got possession of it. The Force went through phases, Ebersohn passed to Junior Rasolea who forced his way far enough past two tacklers to get a pass to Angus Cottrell who scored. 32-0 after 27 minutes.

The Rebels were routed and the rest of the match just played its way out.

After this the Rebels actually got going and were close to scoring when Mitch Inman tapped a penalty five metres from the Force line and surged for the line but was penalised for continuing to play in the tackle.

Halt-time arrived with the score 32-0. And so the score stayed for 40 minutes of the second half. The Rebels had moments but their handling and accuracy let them down.  Ebersohn missed two penalties and then the Force opted for attacking line-outs which were a mess and could not be mauled.

From a five-metre scrum with only seconds remaining, Bryce Hegarty, a substitute at flyhalf, sidefooted a grubber into the Force in-goal and right wing substitute Telusa Veainu got to the ball just before the dead-ball line. Hegarty converted and the final whistle went.

The Force and its fans were delighted in an astonished sort of way.

Man of the Match: The men who did most to make the victory were the Force loose trio - Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson and Angus Cottrell and the halfbacks Albie Mathewson and Sias Ebersohn. We should like to choose the man who tackled more than anybody else on the field, was on hand to compete at tackles and scored a try in his 100th Super Rugby match - captain Matt Hodgson.

The scorers:

For the Western Force:
Mathewson, Morahan, Hodgson, Cottrell
Cons: Ebersohn 3
Pens: Ebersohn 2

For the Rebels:
Con: Hegarty


Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Junior Rasolea, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8  Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacement: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Marcel Brache.

Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Lachlan Mitchell , 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Luke Jones, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Telusa Veainu.

Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
Reds 8 2 0 6 10
Force 7 2 0 5 9
Waratahs 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 7 1 1 5 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 8 0 0 36
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
Chiefs 8 7 0 1 33
Highlanders 8 5 0 3 23
Blues 8 3 0 5 17
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 8 6 0 2 26
Bulls 8 3 0 5 14
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 10
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 5
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 7 0 1 32
Sharks 8 5 1 2 24
Jaguares 8 4 0 4 20
Kings 8 2 0 6 10