1. 80-minute efforts
It’s a cliché but it’s there for a reason. The Force stayed competitive with the Highlanders for three-quarters of the match, in losing bonus point range for nearly 60 minutes. Five second half tries, four in the final 16 minutes, blew the Force away and will leave them ruing a missed opportunity.
2. Preseason means nothing
The Force flogged the Hurricanes in the preseason, keeping the 2015 finalists scoreless in their trial match up. It was a very different matter in the regular season, with the Force failing to score a five-pointer in Palmerston North. The Force continued to try to stick to their attacking policy but without much ball that was hard to do. Even without dynamo Nehe Milner-Skudder, the Hurricanes managed to rack up the attacking metres, nearly tripling the Force’s tally.
3. Hard road ahead
It’s been a brutal start for the Force and it won’t get any easier. The WA franchise’s resilience will be tested to the limit as they continue their New Zealand tour, with a match against the 2015 champion Highlanders next weekend. They have been competitive in the opening month but it hasn’t been enough and they will simply need to improve.
4. Hodgson raising the bar
Matt Hodgson continues to set the tone for his teammates in any situation. Hodgson forced turnovers and penalties at critical points in the opening half, when the Hurricanes threatened to break open the game. The inspirational captain continued to bash his way through the match, reinforcing his value to the side.
5. Haylett-Petty has game
Dane Haylett-Petty has already shown himself to be a major attacking weapon this season but he proved himself as a defensive threat against the Hurricanes. Leading his team’s run metres coming into the match, Haylett-Petty pulled off some incredible cover defence, stopping Vaea Fifita from scoring a near-certain try.