Western Force deny Queensland Reds again
May 4, 2013
Western Force players celebrate Ben McCalman's try
© Getty Images
The Force appeared set to claim their third consecutive victory against the Reds when they led 11-3 early in the second half, but the visitors produced a powerful 30-minute spell to lock the scoreline through a penalty from Quade Cooper and a try from substitute Chris Feauai-Sautia. Cooper had the chance to put the Reds ahead with a tough conversion attempt, but the Wallabies fly-half sprayed his kick to the left.
The Force tried to pinch the game as the clock wound down but they turned the ball over to give the Reds one last chance to win the match, with scrum-half Will Genia launching an audacious run down the touchline before being tackled into touch 40 metres short of the line.
The Reds dominated the early stages of the match, and France-bound winger Digby Ioane thought he had scored the opener when he touched down in the corner in the ninth minute; the television match official, however, ruled that had grazed the paint of the touchline in the act of scoring.
The Force struggled to create clear-cut opportunities, but were given a much-needed spark when returning winger Nick Cummins marked a box kick and made off on one of his trademark runs in the 17th minute. The break gave the hosts great field position, and five-eighth Sias Ebersohn kicked a penalty goal shortly after to break the deadlock.
The Force went into half-time with a 6-3 lead, after another penalty from Ebersohn, and they extended that buffer when Cummins made a brilliant break and set up flanker Ben McCalman to crash over for a try. Ebersohn missed the easy conversion, and the Reds would make him and the Force pay as they dominated possession to power their way back into the contest.
The Reds, now led by Genia after captain James Horwill was substituted at half-time with a head knock, were conceded penalties by the hosts as they increased the pressure, but they opted for lineouts instead of penalty goals, as they had done in the drawn match against the Brumbies two weeks previously; they eventually gained reward when Feauai-Sautia barged over a glut of Force defenders to touch down in the 73rd minute, But Cooper's miss meant their winless streak against the Force stretched to three games.
Genia described the game as "very tough", saying after the match: "They put a lot of pressure on us at the breakdown, which we knew they would, We adjusted well in the second half. We just need to turn our possession into points. We build a lot of pressure, we hold the ball for long periods of time, but we're just finding it hard to get over the line. They were very enthusiastic, energetic, and credit to them."
Reds director of coaching Ewen McKenzie agrred, saying "in the end we did well to get back and get two points out of the game", while Force counterpart Michael Foley was pleased with the "outstanding character" of his players to rebound from their 41-7 mauling by the Brumbies.
Force captain Matt Hodgson said of his team's defensive strength that "we backed our system ... they threw a lot at us, and we just backed our system and we're probably unlucky not to get the win there". Hodgson also said the Force could be "a great side" if they produce "consistency week in, week out" to match their efforts against sides such as the Reds and the Crusaders.
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