Force heroics in Buenos Aires 'right up there'

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Two tries in the final 15 minutes have handed the Force their first overseas win this year, 16-6 over the Jaguares.

A week after their season’s low point in Durban, the Force wanted to prove themselves in Buenos Aires, and their reshuffled side put in a far-improved effort.

It took until the 68th minute for the Force to score a try, through winger Alex Newsome after the sides traded penalty goals in Buenos Aires for most of the night.

Handling errors and poor decision-making crept in at times, but this was one win the Force showed they wanted and, more importantly, deserved.

They had their chances in the opening moments, with no. 8 Richard Hardwick the closest, a slam down slipping out of his fingers in the 18th minute after the Force opted to heap the pressure on with their scrum.

Like so many Australian teams this year, though, that was as close as they could get despite pitching a tent in their own attacking zone.

A clumsy Richie Arnold tackle deep in defence sent the mammoth lock to the bin and painted an ugly picture for the Force, before Jaguares captain Agustin Creevy conceded a penalty just short of the line.

Curtis Rona in action for the Force against the Jaguares. Photo: AFPIan Prior finally added some points in the 36th minute, slotting a penalty to give the Force an edge.

It looked like things might unravel when Jaguares fullback Joaquin Tuculet sprinted down the sideline for what looked like a certain try before Curtis Rona crossed his path, with a brilliant cover tackle.

The most-penalised team in Super Rugby lived up to its reputation in the fiery clash, where multi-lingual fisticuffs were never far away.

A fast start was what the second half called for and the Force desperately tried to pick up the phone, with James Verity-Amm and Hardwick both falling short as the back end ramped up.

The deadlock continued before the Force conceded three consecutive penalties and the Jaguares took their opportunity to level the scores.

As the arm wrestle continued, both sides had reasons to feel aggrieved but it was the Force with the next chance for points, through Prior, putting them ahead again.

The Jaguares pressed but the Force looked like they would survive the assault, until another penalty gave Juan Martin Hernandez the equaliser.

Eighteen phases put Isi Naisarani in danger, but the big backrower was pushed into touch for the Force to reset, desperate to cross.

Finally, they got their try, with Prior slipping through the Jaguares’ grasps to put Alex Newsome over in the 68th minute, before Naisarani had the second in the 75th minute.

Afterward Prior spoke of the emotion that the victory had sparked within the playing group.

"I've been pretty fortunate in my career to be part of some pretty special teams and wins, but tonight's result was right up there with one of the gutsiest wins I've been part of," Prior wrote on his Instagram account.

"Considering everything that is happening in Australian rugby at the moment, the way the players, coaches, support staff and organisation as well as their wives, partners, families, friends, supporters and the wider Australian rugby community have galvanised and supported each other is nothing short of phenomenal."

The Force return to Perth this week, to face the Highlanders, with the Australian conference still, somewhat, bizarrely in their grasp.

RESULT

Jaguares 6

Pens: Hernandez 2

Force 16

Tries: Newsome, Naisarani

Cons:

Pens: Prior 2

Yellow card: Richie Arnold 28’

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