One try each
The Western Force and Reds played to an 11-all draw in their Super Rugby encounter in Perth on Saturday.
Although a scrappy affair, it was an intriguing game with plenty of entertainment value - despite the teams scoring just one try each.
It was a typical Australian derby - littered with errors, but plenty of endeavour. And the penalty count also mounted as the two teams opted to negate any threats with negative tactics.
The Reds were heavily penalised in the first half, conceding seven to one in the first half-hour alone. The Force were no angles, with a couple of penalties under pressure in the 10 minutes just before the break.
After the break the Force became the team caught most often on the wrong side of the referee.
However, the outstanding feature of the home team's display was their defence, as they squeezed the Reds for every inch.
Add to that their hard work in the set pieces, particularly the line-outs, and the Reds were left with limited opportunities to get their free-running game going - despite dominating possession and territory in the second half.
The Western Force, who are always up for a scrap in Australian derbies, gave as good as they got.
Just short of the 10-minute mark wing Digby Ioane thought he hard worked his way over in the left corner, but the TMO found that his boot had brushed a blade of grass with white chalk on it.
The scoreboard remained at 0-0 till the second quarter got underway - the reds being penalised in front of their posts for an offence at the breakdown and Sias Ebersohn making it 3-0. The Force flyhalf made that 6-0 five minutes later, after the Reds again got down and dirty in front of their own posts while the home team looked for a try.
Quade Cooper eventually got the Reds on the board, another breakdown penalty, making it 3-6 just after the half-hour mark.
The Reds had a chance of ending the half in the lead, with a five-metre line-out and a maul. However, the Force not only halted the maul successfully, they also won a turnover the end that first 40 minutes in the lead.
Just after the break the Reds went on another penalty spree, with hooker Saia Faingaa the biggest culprit. However, the Force flyhalf, Ebersohn, failed to make it count - as he pushed a very kickable penalty from about 40 metres out.
Not that Quade Cooper was much more accurate, although his attempt at least bounced back off the upright.
With just under half-an-hour to go Ben McCalman got the first try - coming after a very impressive run down the left by Nick Cummins, with McCalman running hard onto a quickly recycled ball to crash over. Ebersohn's poor kicking form continued and pushed it wide - 11-3.
Cooper eventually pulled three points back on the hour mark, after the Force again conceded a penalty under pressure - to leave the game finely balance at 6-11.
The Reds continued to hammer away at the Force line, with the home team's brave defence standing firm for most part.
The Reds did manage to get the ball over the line on a couple of occasions, with the TMO eventually awarding a try to Chris Feauai-Sautia in the 73rd minute. Cooper, from near touch, pushed his conversion attempt across the face of the uprights - leaving the game deadlocked at 11-all.
It then became a game of territory and somehow the Force managed to win a scrum feed inside the reds half, with time up on the clock.
However, they turned the ball over and was forced to scramble on defence to salvage the draw.
Man of the match: Quade Cooper was full of ideas, as usual, with an array of grubbers and off-loads, but both he and Will Genia were very closely marked. Digby Ioane imposed himself on the game with some powerful runs and Liam Gill showed his value with probably the highest workrate of all. Chris Alcock and Matt Hodgson did yeoman work at the breakdown, while Ben McCalman was the strongest carrier for the Force. Kyle Godwin troubled the Reds defence and breached the advantage line a number of times. Alby Mathewson had a huge impact in the early exchanges - both on attack and defence, including a crucial early penalty turnover. However, our award goes to a man who was literally in the heat of battle - Force hooker Heath Tessmann. He produced a huge effort - including a crucial turnover near his own 22 and then a strong carry inside the Reds 22, not to mention some great stepping.
For the Western Force:
Pens: Ebersohn 2
For the Reds:
Pens: Cooper 2
Western Force: 15 Sam Norton-Knight, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Matt Hodgson (captain), 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Rory Walton, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Junior Rasolea, 22 Jayden Hayward.
Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Albert Anae.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 James Slipper, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Chris Feauai-Sautia.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Ed Martin
TMO: Peter Marshall.