Lance impresses in Force trial

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

New Western Force recruit Jono Lance pushed his starting credentials in an opening 28-0 trial win over the Hurricanes.

Lance, who has played behind Wallabies flyhalves at both the Reds and Waratahs, was the standout for the side after coming off the bench.

In his first outing for the WA franchise, Lance set up two of the Force’s tries, with his defensive tenacity on show too.

Considered relative outsiders as they faced the 2015 Super Rugby runners-up in Gosford, the Force showed some improvement as they clinched a trial win, with four tries to none.

While the Force have spruiked their high-pace attacking focus over summer, it was their defence that proved the difference in the game.

The Force withstood a barrage of Hurricanes territory, holding the Kiwis scoreless.

That task was made all that more difficult with two yellow cards handed in a four-minute span early in the second half.

First it was Steve Mafi in the 48th minute and just four minutes later youngster Kane Koteka joined him, leaving the Force two men down.

Lance very nearly set up the Force’s second try in the 60th minute putting a kick down the right wing, but speedster Luke Morahan wasn’t able to meet the ball before the line.

It mattered little, as Mafi redeemed himself just a minute later to score the Force’s second try, almost immediately after returning from the sin bin.

Still a man down, the Force took advantage of their sliver of attacking territory to lengthen their lead to 14 points, with 20 minutes to go.

Young winger Semisi Mesirewa finished off an exciting attacking passage from the Force in the 68th minute, before Ammon Matuato finished off a Chris Alcock linebreak in the 77th minute to seal the win for the Force.

Playing at openside flanker, Alcock was another who did no harm to his starting Super Rugby credentials, though he sits in a queue behind incumbent seven and team captain, Matt Hodgson.

Hodgson will be one of a number of players welcomed back into the line-up for their second trial against the Asia Pacific Dragons on February 13 in Perth.