Western Force 17 v Lions 11
The Western Force ended their six game losing streak on Saturday night against the team sitting bottom of the Super Rugby ladder. But things still look gloomy for the club, both on and off the pitch, despite this respite. Are they going to go the way of their Rugby League counterparts The Western Reds?
The Force made it hard for themselves for much of the first half, trailing 8-3 to the bottom placed Lions at half time. But they came good in the second half dominating possession and creating two tries. The Force captain David Pocock scored in the 56th minute practically carrying four Lions defenders over the try line with him. In the 70th minute, Napolioni Nalaga beat three defenders in an excellent running performance to put the Force in control.
The Lions opted to kick a consolation penalty well after the siren to get a bonus point, for losing by less than 7 points. This seemed a really strange decision considering they are sitting bottom of the South African conference and 13 points behind the Cheetahs. A concerted effort for a try would surely have done more for their credibility and self belief.
David Pocock was once again named man of the match and there was another great contribution from Nathan Sharpe, there in lies the problem. The Force rely too much on these players and there is not enough flair shown from the backs. The club has lost too many marquee players in recent times, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Digby Ioane and James O’Connor to name a few. Nathan Sharpe is retiring at the end of the season and the club’s all-time leading points and try scorer Cameron Shepherd is leaving too.
Will Genia’s decision to stay with Queensland a few weeks ago means Pocock has not yet made a decision to stay and do not forget the Force are without a full time head coach. I do not know what the crowd figure was on Saturday, but there looked to be a lot more empty seats than normal at NIB Stadium. I worry that The Force will disappear in a season or two if these personnel matters are not taken care of very soon. Remember the Western Reds started out with reasonable crowds and results, but were out of top level Rugby League after only a few seasons.
Elsewhere in Super Rugby tries were bountiful over the weekend. The Hurricanes stuffed the Melbourne Rebels 66-24. The Rebels scored three tries but that paled in comparison to the Hurricanes nine. The Warratahs scored a four try bonus point in the first half but managed to finish one point behind the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. Cheetahs 35 Warratahs 34
In the battle for top honours for the Australian conference it was as hard fought as expected, with the Queensland Reds edging an away win by a single point too. Brumbies 12 Reds 13
By Max Power
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