nib Stadium, Perth
The Emirates Western Force has fallen to the Cheetahs, 19-10, in their opening home match of the season at the newly-developed nib Stadium tonight.
In the shadow of the towering new eastern stand, the Force created numerous opportunities throughout the match but was unable to capitalise, with each side scoring one try apiece.
The Western Australians took a one-point lead into half time and, despite scoring first through a penalty goal in the second term, were unable to carry it into a win over a determined Cheetahs outfit.
Head Coach Michael Foley said the Emirates Western Force needed to improve on converting possession onto the scoreboard.
“I thought we defended particularly well at times but we had to because we gave them a lot of possession to use,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do and no-one in our team avoids that. We work hard and we’ll continue to work hard. There’ve been some positive signs this season and, again, some positive signs tonight.
“That was a game we could have won and should have won. Take nothing away from the Cheetahs, I’ve got the greatest respect for them, but we did enough in that game to show how we had to play and we went away from things that we’ve done well in the last couple of games. We realise that’s something we need to continually work on come next week.
“We don’t need to change a hell of a lot; we just need to be better at what we do.”
The Force again started positively, dominating territory and possession in the opening stages of the game with two penalty attempts inside the first 20 minutes from former Cheetahs flyhalf Sias Ebersohn narrowly waved away.
Instead it was the Bloemfontein side that posted the opening points of the match through the boot of playmaker Riaan Smit with a 25th-minute penalty goal, on the back of continual phase play inside the Force’s quarter.
The home side was quick to respond with the first try of the match just before the half hour mark when a blind Cheetahs offload only made it as far as the retreating Toby Lynn. The Force lock knocked the ball into the hands of Chris Alcock, who spun it wide through Kyle Godwin and Angus Cottrell, allowing Winston Stanley to dive over in the corner.
Ebersohn’s sideline conversion gave his side a 7-3 lead before Smit’s second penalty goal reduced the margin to one point at the break.
Smit posted another two penalties to replacement Force centre Jayden Hayward’s one in the second stanza to allow his side to hold a 12-10 lead with eight minutes remaining.
While the Force continued to battle away to overturn the deficit, a loose ball toed through by the Cheetahs popped up for winger Willie Le Roux to cross for the visitors in the dying minutes, with Smit’s straightforward conversion sealing the final 19-10 score line.
The Emirates Western Force will next face the Waratahs in Sydney on Sunday, 31 March.
2013 Super Rugby – Week 6
Saturday, 23 March 2013 at nib Stadium, Perth
Cheetahs 19 (Willie le Roux try; Riaan Smith 1/1 conversion, 4/4 penalty goals) defeated Emirates Western Force 10 (Winston Stanley try; Sias Ebersohn 1/1 conversion, 0/2 penalty goals; Jayden Hayward 1/2 penalty goals)
Emirates Western Force
1. Pek Cowan (c), 2. Nathan Charles, 3. Salesi Ma'afu, 4. Toby Lynn, 5. Hugh McMeniman, 6. Angus Cottrell, 7. Chris Alcock, 8. Richard Brown, 9. Alby Mathewson, 10. Sias Ebersohn, 11. Alfie Mafi, 12. Kyle Godwin, 13. Winston Stanley, 14. Patrick Dellit, 15. Will Tupou. Res: 16. Heath Tessmann, 17. Tetera Faulkner, 18. Sam Wykes, 19. Ben McCalman, 20. Matt Hodgson, 21. Mick Snowden, 22. Jayden Hayward.
Coach: Michael Foley
1. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Adrian Strauss (c), 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 4. Lood de Jager, 5. Francois Uys, 6. Heinrich Brussow, 7. Lappies Labuschagne, 8. Philip van der Walt, 9. Sarel Pretorius, 10. Riaan Smit, 11. Raymond Rhule, 12. Robert Ebersohn, 13. Johan Sadie, 14. Willie le Roux, 15. Hennie Daniller. Res: 16. Ryno Barnes, 17. Coenie Oosthuisen, 18. Rynhard Landman, 19. Boom Prinsloo, 20. Piet van Zyl, 21. Burton Francis, 22. Ryno Benjamin.
Coach: Naka Drotske
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Referee: Garratt Williamson
By the Clock
Emirates Western Force captain Matt Hodgson and lock Sam Wykes are in line to return from injury when the Emirates Western Force christens the new nib Stadium against the Cheetahs on Saturday night.
Hodgson initially suffered a hamstring injury in the lead-up to the season opener against the Melbourne Rebels, before aggravating it in the Week Three clash against the Bulls in Pretoria. His absence from last weekend’s win over the Queensland Reds allowed him to be at the birth of he and wife Jo’s first child, Hunter Patrick, on Thursday night.
Head Coach Michael Foley has named an initial 23-man squad to face the Cheetahs with Wykes, who has recovered from an ankle injury sustained in training last week, set to replace Phoenix Battye in the match day squad.
The match will mark winger Alfie Mafi’s 50th in Super Rugby. Mafi, who currently shares a hold of the leading try-scorer’s mantle with four touchdowns, has played 33 matches over three seasons for the Force, having previously represented the Waratahs (nine matches in 2008) and the Brumbies (seven matches in 2009 and 2010).
The match against the Cheetahs is the first home fixture for the Emirates Western Force in 2013 following the $95 million renovation of nib Stadium. The new stadium now features a towering eastern grandstand, new southern stand and two massive replay screens at either end of the ground.
Head Coach Michael Foley said the revamped nib Stadium ushers in a new era for the Emirates Western Force in Perth.
"We now have a fantastic new home and we’re very proud to be playing back in Perth, in front of the Sea of Blue,” he said. “An important part of our development will be to earn the respect of our people through the way we perform in our home.
“Last week we showed great character in the way we supported each other through the 80 minutes.
"To hold the Reds try-less was important, as we face another strong attacking side this week.”
PLEASE NOTE: Members and spectators attending Saturday’s match between the Emirates Western Force and the Cheetahs are advised to arrive early to allow for the new changes at the venue.
2013 Super Rugby – Week Six
Emirates Western Force v Cheetahs
nib Stadium, Perth
Saturday, 23 March 2013
Chris Alcock, Richard Brown, Nathan Charles, Angus Cottrell, Pek Cowan, Patrick Dellit, Sias Ebersohn, Tetera Faulkner,
Kyle Godwin, Jayden Hayward, Matt Hodgson (c), Toby Lynn, Salesi Ma’afu, Alfie Mafi, Alby Mathewson, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Junior Rasolea, Mick Snowden, Winston Stanley, Heath Tessmann, Will Tupou, Sam Wykes.