Force tackle Chiefs into submission
Force tackle Chiefs into submissionSHARE
The Western Force produced a defensive effort of epic proportions to cause the biggest up of the season.
Tackling like demons, they beat the defending champion Chiefs 18-15 in Perth on Saturday, the first time in more than a decade the Chiefs were kept tryless in Australia.
If energy counts for points, this game would have been a one-horse race.
The Western Force produced energy and enthusiasm in bucketloads, while the Chiefs gave the appearance that they only needed to turn up to win.
In fact the Chiefs never got their free-running game going and the Force enjoyed the arm-wrestle the game turned into.
Chiefs captain Aaron Cruden put it in a nutshell when he said the Force "wanted it more".
The most telling statistic from the game was that the Force made 138 and missed just 15, the Chiefs required to make just 88 tackles.
It resulted in the Force's third consecutive win, the first time in years they have won three in a row.
The Western Force applied al the early pressure and got their reward in the form a a try from a powerful maul in the 13th minute – captain Matt Hodgson getting the armchair ride. Sias Ebersohn, who had earlier missed a penalty shot from the sideline, was again wide with his attempt to add the extras. However, the home team was on the board – 5-0.
The Chiefs were certainly not going to sit back and just take it. And so it was, an Aaron Cruden penalty four minutes later coming off a strong charge into the Force half and a stray hand at a ruck costing the home team – 3-5.
Ebersohn finally succeeded with a kick in the 26th minute, a penalty from 45 metres out, to stretch the lead to 8-3.
The Chiefs continued to bash away and the Force scrapped hard, especially near their own goalline, till the pressure saw the home team cough up a penalty – which Cruden converted to make it 6-8 just past the half-hour mark.
The Chiefs were reduced to 14 men five minutes before the break – prop Jamie Mackintosh being sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements at the maul.
However, it was Cruden that scored next, a penalty after Wilhelm Steenkamp was punished for a high tackle – allowing the Chiefs to take a one-point (9-8) lead into the half-time break.
Gareth Anscombe got the second-half scoring underway with a long-range penalty, but the Force captain, Hodgson, got his second five-pointer of the match after South African import Brynard Stander had set up the try with a powerful bust. Ebersohn's conversion made it 15-12.
That lead became six points, 18-12, when Ebersohn kicked a penalty in the 58th minute, after Tom Marshall was penalised at a tackle.
Cruden pulled three points back with 20 minutes to go and then, at 15-18, it turned into a real arm-wrestle.
And the Force tackled their hearts out to hold on for a famous upset win over the Chiefs.
Man of the match: The Chiefs' big All Black lock Brodie Retallick threw his considerable weight around with reckless abandon and was a worthy contender for the prize. However, our award goes to the Western Force captain, Matt Hodgson, who was the real driving force in the Perth team's inspired display – not just scoring tries, but tackling, carrying and even winning turnovers at crucial times.
For the Western Force:
Tries: Hodgson 2
Pens: Ebersohn 2
For the Chiefs
Pens: Cruden 4, Anscombe
Yellow card: Jamie Mackintosh (Chiefs, 35 – repeated infringements, illegally sacking a maul)
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Junior Rasolea, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Angus Cottrell, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Hugh McMeniman, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Marcel Brache.
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Mils Muliaina, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden (captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Kane Thompson, 20 Tanerau Latimer, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Will Houston (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)