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Tahs hold off willing Force

Sun, 31 Mar 2013 06:50
Ashley-cooper-tahs630 Bennrobinsonwaratahs
It was about putting aside the milestone
Quote-end

The Waratahs were forced to work hard for their tense 23-19 victory over a determined Western Force side in Sydney on Sunday.

The Waratahs, having to defend for long periods and playing most of their rugby in their own territory, made the most of their limited chances for their third win of the season.

They are third in the Australian conference behind the Brumbies and Reds.

Wallaby Adam Ashley-Cooper capped a strong 100th Super Rugby game by scoring the Waratahs' lone try in the 47th minute and won a key turnover late in the game as the Force pressed.

Scrumhalf Brendan McKibbin finished with six penalties to have the Waratahs in front from the opening quarter of the match.

It was a back-to-back win for the Waratahs, who got home after the final siren against the Auckland Blues 30-27 last weekend in a sign that new coach Michael Cheika is gradually making his mark on the notorious under-achievers.

The Force spent a total of 7.30 minutes in the Waratahs quarter during the match but only had a 54th-minute try by fullback Alfi Mafi to show for their superior amount of possession and territory.

South African flyhalf Sias Ebersohn chipped in with a conversion and four penalties for the Force.

"A hundred is a lot of games and I am very proud to have played that many and very happy to be sharing it with the boys," Ashley-Cooper said.

"It was about putting aside the milestone, it was about the team focus and the important thing for us was back-to-back wins.

"We needed that for our season, we needed that for the belief of our squad, we have an important game next week against the Wellington Hurricanes."

The Force, who got within four points of the Waratahs with 20 minutes left, could not breach the home defence despite their weight of possession and have now won just one of their six games this season.

"When we play we're a good rugby side, but we're just not playing for the entire 80 minutes," Force skipper Matt Hodgson said.

"We're trying to work on our combinations. We're a new side, we have a whole new backline so we are trying to integrate the forwards and backs together.

"We're showing in patches that we can do that, we just can't do it all the time."

The Waratahs face a big test against the Hurricanes in Wellington next Saturday, while the Force are at home to the Melbourne Rebels, who are returning home from two losses in South Africa.

Man of the match: Adam Ashley-Cooper showed plenty of experience in his 100th game, and scored his team's only try.

The scorers:

For the Waratahs:
Try: Ashley-Cooper
Pens: McKibbin 6

For the Force:
Try: Mafi
Con: Ebersohn
Pens: Ebersohn 4

Yellow card: Ma'afu (Dangerous tackle, 19 mins)

Teams:

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Rob Horne, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Pat McCutcheon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (captain), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Mitchell Chapman, 19 Jed Holloway, 20 Matt Lucas, 21 Ben Volavola, 22 Tom Kingston.

Western Force: 15 Alfie Mafi, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Junior Rasolea, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Richard Brown, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Ben McCalman, 5 Hugh McMeniman, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Sam Wykes, 19 Chris Alcock, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Sam Norton-Knight.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)

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