Fri 21 May 2021 | 02:45

Highlanders too classy for ill-disciplined Force

Highlanders too classy for ill-disciplined Force
Fri 21 May 2021 | 02:45
Highlanders too classy for ill-disciplined Force
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SUPER RUGBY TRANS-TASMAN REPORT: The Western Force have been made to pay dearly for their ill-discipline during a 15-25 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman loss to the Highlanders in Perth.

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The Force trailed 20-3 after 36 minutes of Friday night’s match before launching a brave comeback that almost saw them reduce the margin to three points.

Down by 10 points early in the second half, the Force came close to scoring on three occasions – only for penalties to bring them undone each time with the line in sight.

A 60th-minute yellow card to reserve prop Greg Holmes – and a Highlanders try a minute later – killed off the Force’s victory hopes in front of 13 587 fans at HBF Park.

The penalty count read 12-6 against the Force late in the match before the Highlanders committed some ill-disciplined acts themselves in the dying minutes for the final count to read 12-9.

The Force suffered a blow before the game when former All Blacks lock Jeremy Thrush became a late withdrawal.

And flyhalf Jake McIntyre lasted just 22 minutes before being knocked unconscious in a sickening clash of heads with Highlanders winger Patelesio Tomkinson.

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The Force trailed by 17 points after conceding three tries in the opening 36 minutes.

Winger Jona Nareki scored the opener in the 12th minute when the Highlanders pulled off a smooth line-out move and scrumhalf Aaron Smith broke through Feleti Kaitu’u’s tackle to provide the assist.

The Force were brought undone at the line-out again in the 23rd minute when the Highlanders threw it short and formed a rolling maul for prop Ayden Johnstone to barge over.

Alarm bells were ringing in the 36th minute when a rolling maul congested the Force defence before the ball was offloaded to inside centre Scott Gregory to touch down.

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But the home side hit back on the stroke of half-time with their own piece of magic from a successful line-out.

Winger Jordan Olowofela made a sharp 20 metre break before dishing off to centre Henry Taefu.

Taefu’s pass was knocked down by a defender, but scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli swooped on the loose ball and shook off a tackle in a sprint to the line.

Domingo Miotti’s successful conversion made it 20-10 at half-time, and the Force dominated long periods early in the second half, only for untimely penalties to bring them undone on three occasions close to the line.

Holmes’ yellow card for a high tackle that was swiftly followed by a second try to Gregory extended the margin to 15 points, but the Highlanders were denied a bonus point when Force substitute Angus Wagner scored in the 79th minute.

The scorers:

Western Force:
Tries: Cubelli, Wagner
Con: Miotti
Pen: Miotti

For Highlanders:
Tries: Gregory 2, Johnstone, Nareki
Con: Hunt
Pen: Hunt

Western Force: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Richard Kahui, 13 Kyle Godwin (captain), 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Tim Anstee, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Jake Strachan.

Highlanders: 15 Sam Gilbert, 14 Sio Tomkinson, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Hugh Renton, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Kazuki Himeno, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Ngantungane Punivai.

Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Amy Perrett, Reuben Keane
TMO: James Leckie

PV: 26
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Highlanders too classy for ill-disciplined Force | Rugby365