Tahs ease past hapless Force
The Waratahs had a productive trip to Perth on Sunday as they beat the Western Force 28-13.
The Waratahs had a productive Super Rugby trip to Perth on Sunday as they came away with four points from a comfortable 28-13 win over the Western Force.
Neither team had a realistic chance of reaching the play-offs and were playing for pride only, with the hapless Force's already dented pride further bruised as they remain stuck at the bottom of the Australian conference.
The Waratahs will claim they do have a slim mathematical chance of getting into the top six after this victory - as they are two points behind the Cheetahs and Crusaders, both on 46 in fifth and sixth place on the standings.
However, they play the Reds in their final league fixture. Also, the Cheetahs, who like the Waratahs have a bye to come, have a game in hand and the Crusaders have two games in hand.
Despite being without several players due to Wallabies duties and injury, the Waratahs set up the win by running in three tries in the first half on the way to their eighth win of the season.
Up 22-8 at half-time, the defensive resilience of the Waratahs ensured they secured the win, despite the Force enjoying the lion's share of possession and territory in the second half.
The Waratahs were denied a bonus point fourth try with the final play of the match by the narrowest margin possible, the video referee ruling Peter Betham lost control of the ball just as he reached over in the corner.
The home team scored the only try of the second half to revive their hopes of a comeback, but paid the price for failing to take opportunities, both with ball in hand and with the boot.
The Force, who raised the ire of the British and Irish Lions when they played a second-string team in the tour match during the week so they could field their best side against the Waratahs, spent long periods camped in the Waratahs' 22 for little reward.
They should have been closer on the scoreboard in the last 20 minutes of the game, but kicker Jayden Hayward was struggling in slippery conditions, missing two penalties and a conversion from his four scoring attempts during the match.
That was eight points squandered and it proved crucial after the Force's Kyle Godwin scored the only try of the second half to narrow the margin to nine points, 22-13, in the 63rd minute.
Hayward missed the conversion and the Waratahs then scored successive penalties through Brendan McKibbin (66th minute) and Bernard Foley (75th) to seal the win.
With 10 players away on Wallabies duties, Waratahs captain Tom Carter said it was one of the best wins of his career.
"That typifies the effort we have put in all year," he said. "It is one of the best wins I have ever had."
Force skipper Pek Cowan dismissed suggestions that his team underestimated the Waratahs, saying they lost because of poor execution.
"We created a lot of opportunities but weren't able to execute," he said. "We are very disappointed with that."
The visitors had got off to a great start, with former Force player Ollie Atkins, in his debut for the Waratahs, pushing over for the game's first try in the seventh minute.
A great chain of passes then ended with Cam Crawford diving over in the corner for the Waratahs' second try in the 10th minute.
The Force struck back through Cowan in the 22nd minute.
Man of the match: Chris Alcock tackled his heart out, but could have done with more support from his teammates. Waratahs wing Cam Crawford often made good ground with ball in hand and was a constant threat on attack, even as a first receiver. However, the huge frame of Waratahs lock Will Skelton was everywhere to be seen, with his best work disrupting the Western Force mauls. He gets out award.
For the Western Force:
Tries: Cowan, Godwin
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Atkins, Crawford, Kingston
Cons: McKibbin 2
Pens: McKibbin 2, Foley
Yellow card: Jed Holloway (Waratahs, 56 - professional foul, slapping the ball out of the scrumhalf's hand)
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Junior Rasolea, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Angus Cottrell, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Hugh McMeniman, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Rory Walton, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pek Cowan (captain).
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Salesi Ma'afu, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Ed Stubbs, 22 Sam Norton-Knight.
Waratahs: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Tom Kingston, 12 Tom Carter (captain), 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 AJ Gilbert, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Jeremy Tilse.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Richard Aho, 18 Adam Coleman, 19 Liam Winton, 20 Matt Lucas, 21 Ben Volavola, 22 Terrence Hepetema.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Ed Martin (Australia), Richard Goswell (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)