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First-half blitz wins it for Force

Sat, 08 Mar 2014 10:26
Force-v-rebels
Late consolation for Rebels
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The Western Force produced a stunning first-half display to record their first win of the season, beating the Rebels 32-7 in Perth on Saturday.

Oft have you heard the cliché 'It's a game of two halves'.

This was not true in Perth when the Force played the Rebels. It was game of one half, and of that half less than a half-an-hour.

After 27 minutes, the Force led the mesmerised Rebels 32-0, The Force did not score again in the match and indeed the only other score came 53 minutes later.

What a difference a week makes! Last week the Brumbies hammered the Force and the Rebels' hammered the Cheetahs. This week the hammered hammered the hammerers.

The thrill of the game was in those first 27 minutes. The rest was a disappointing mishmash of poor handling and clumsiness. There was a fair amount of kicking. The Force did it better in the first half and the Rebels failed to cope with it. It was profitable for the Force. In the second half the kicking was close to meaningless.

In the first half the Force enjoyed a flawless performance by flyhalf Sias Ebersohn. Then he missed a conversion and in the second half two straightforward penalty kicks at goal. He goaled the first five and missed the next three. Instead the Force, sitting on a try bonus point, went for attacking line-outs but made a mess of them.

For Matt Hodgson, the Force captain, it was a golden century experience. He led his team out for his 100th match, he carried his little son onto the field, he scored a try and his team - against all predictions - had a glorious victory. There would have been a lot to celebrate afterwards.

The Force kicked off and two minutes later led 7-0. Sam Wykes won the first line-out, the Force drove the maul and then attacked. From a tackle/ruck five metres from the Rebels' line, Alby Mathewson threw a dummy, darted and scored.

Wykes won the first Rebels' line-out and the Force attacked again.

From a line-out won by Wilhelm Steenkamp, Mathewson kicked high, the Rebels did not cope and Wykes gave to Ebersohn going right. Ebersohn's running was perfect, occupying two defenders before giving to bearded Jayden Hayward who kept defenders busy before releasing to Luke Morahan on the overlap. The right wing scored far put but Ebersohn goaled. 14-0 after 10 minutes.

An Ebersohn kick had the Rebels in trouble again and the Force went through nine phases before they were penalised. Ebersohn goaled. 17-0 after 17 minutes.

The Rebels were not in the game and when Paul Alo-Emile was penalised at a tackle, Ebersohn goaled a long one. 20-0 after 22 minutes.

And still it was not an end as the home side took every 50-50 ball.

Mathewson kicked, Tom Kingston let it bounce and the bounce beat Luke Morahan as well. But Hodgson was on hand to toe the ball ahead, collect the bounce and score a try. 27-0 after 25 minutes.

And still, the rout continued.

Ebersohn kicked high, Angus Roberts did not control the ball and Nick Cummins toed the ball ahead and got possession of it. The Force went through phases, Ebersohn passed to Junior Rasolea who forced his way far enough past two tacklers to get a pass to Angus Cottrell who scored. 32-0 after 27 minutes.

The Rebels were routed and the rest of the match just played its way out.

After this the Rebels actually got going and were close to scoring when Mitch Inman tapped a penalty five metres from the Force line and surged for the line but was penalised for continuing to play in the tackle.

Halt-time arrived with the score 32-0. And so the score stayed for 40 minutes of the second half. The Rebels had moments but their handling and accuracy let them down.  Ebersohn missed two penalties and then the Force opted for attacking line-outs which were a mess and could not be mauled.

From a five-metre scrum with only seconds remaining, Bryce Hegarty, a substitute at flyhalf, sidefooted a grubber into the Force in-goal and right wing substitute Telusa Veainu got to the ball just before the dead-ball line. Hegarty converted and the final whistle went.

The Force and its fans were delighted in an astonished sort of way.

Man of the Match: The men who did most to make the victory were the Force loose trio - Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson and Angus Cottrell and the halfbacks Albie Mathewson and Sias Ebersohn. We should like to choose the man who tackled more than anybody else on the field, was on hand to compete at tackles and scored a try in his 100th Super Rugby match - captain Matt Hodgson.

The scorers:

For the Western Force:
Tries:
Mathewson, Morahan, Hodgson, Cottrell
Cons: Ebersohn 3
Pens: Ebersohn 2

For the Rebels:
Try:
Veainu
Con: Hegarty

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Junior Rasolea, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8  Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacement: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Marcel Brache.

Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Lachlan Mitchell , 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Luke Jones, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Telusa Veainu.

Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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