Hodgson: Force's best 30 minutes
The Western Force marked captain Matt Hodgson's 100th Super Rugby match for the franchise with an emphatic 32-7 bonus-point win over the Rebels – a result the skipper described as his team's best 30 minutes ever.
Having been a cornerstone of Force sides over the past nine years, the skipper was typically tireless in both attack and defence, finishing the match with a game high 21 tackles and bringing the crowd to its feet after crashing over for the side's third try.
The result saw the Western Australian side cross for four tries in the first 26 minutes of the match to return the franchise's first bonus point victory since it's 45-19 win over the Reds in Perth – in which Hodgson also crossed for a try.
"I remember my first, my 50th and now my 100th and I think that's the best 30 minutes of football we've played as a franchise in its entirety," Hodgson said.
"To come out and play like that and show people what we've been working on and the style we want to play is something I'll never forget."
Having placed a focus on the starting matches in a positive fashion, the Western Force transferred it to the field when Alby Mathewson put the home side on the scoreboard after just three minutes when he dummied and ran through for his side's opening try.
Just seven minutes later the Force added its second, when Hodgson batted the ball down to Kyle Godwin who progressed the attack well into the Rebels' quarter. In the following phase Sias Ebersohn and Jayden Hayward combined to send wing Luke Morahan over in the corner.
Having drilled home the first two conversions, Ebersohn then added two penalty goals in the 16th and 21st minutes, to maintain his side's near point-per-minute scoring rate and return the highest score (17 points) for the first 20 minutes in a home game in the franchise's history.
The loudest cheer of the match came after 23 minutes when Hodgson chased through an awkwardly bouncing Mathewson bomb to cross for his eighth try for the Western Force.
The bonus point was sealed 13 minutes from half-time when outside centre Junior Rasolea got his arms free to put Angus Cottrell over for a 32-0 half-time lead.
While the visitors came out with renewed vigour in the second half, the Force managed to repel 10 minutes of intense Rebel attack inside their own quarter.
The second half arm-wrestle was in keeping with previous matches between the two sides, before the Rebels crossed for their first try on full-time when replacement wing Telusa Veainu chased down a Bryce Hegarty grubber in goal.
Western Force coach Michael Foley was pleased with his side's performance.
"The boys went out there and worked hard like they do every week but there were a few things we got right that we haven't in the first couple of games," he said.
"It's a credit to the players as they come under enormous criticism and I don't think they are given the credit they deserve.
"They had a particularly tough challenge up front against the Waratahs.
"The guys fought back last week and showed tremendous character towards the back end of the game.
"The way they responded to the criticism this week was very good."
The Western Force will now travel to Dunedin to take on the Highlanders next Saturday (March 15), before returning to Perth to front reigning champions, the Chiefs, on Saturday, March 22.