What did we learn after the Force's loss to the Stormers?
1. 0 from 5
It’s been a long weekend for Australian rugby fans and anyone who’s made it through deserves their own bonus point. For the first time in 11 years, Australia was left winless in a Super Rugby round and back then there was only three chances to lose.The Waratahs were the only side to make it through without conceding a five-point win, though that wasn’t much of a silver lining. The Force worked hard and looked promising early against the Stormers but ultimately it wasn’t enough to budge the Australian bagel.
3. Inexperience costs Force
They were dominant in the opening half but the Force slipped up in too many 50-50 moments and once the Stormers had a sniff of momentum they made them pay. A decision to kick to touch just before half-time let the Stormers in for a second try in five minutes before the break and blew a five-point margin to 12 and snatched the ascendency away from the Force.
2. Haylett-Petty brilliance shines through
Dane Haylett-Petty might have been under fire for some co-curricular activities this week but his on-field form stayed strong. The Force fullback was once again his side’s best player, finishing with 103 run metres and four tackle breaks. Haylett-Petty has been brilliant for the Western Force this year and will no doubt play a crucial role in the Rugby Championship for the Wallabies.
4. Backrow shows promise
The Force had a patched-up backrow lining up against the Stormers. Matt Hodgson and Ben McCalman have both been injured for a handful of games now and Angus Cottrell exited this game in just the eighth minute. Richard Hardwick, Chris Alcock and Brynard Stander performed admirably at the breakdown, forcing some turnovers.
5. That awkward moment...
It was an awkward situation to watch referee Michael Fraser hand a yellow card to Daniel Du Plessis as the Stormers outside centre was about to be stretchered off. Du Plessis was carded for tackline Force winger Marcel Brache in the air, as the two contested a high ball. While there’s no doubt that player safety needs to be primary in these decisions, there was plenty of conjecture about the carding for Du Plessis, with the referee saying he wasn’t in a realistic position to catch the ball, though he was right under it.