Force flying after impressive trial win

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Force have dominated on both sides of the ball in a clinical trial win over the Melbourne Rebels at Bond University.

The Rebels were first to trouble the scorers after Laurie Weeks showed a clean pair of hands to put Steve Cummins over for a try in the third minute but that was the start and end of the good news for the Melbourne side.

Handling errors were a consistent theme throughout the four 20 minute quarters and the Force's backs took full advantage.

Former Canterbury Bulldogs star now Force flyer, Curtis Rona. Photo: WalmsleyFlyhalf Jono Lance and inside centre Bill Meakes combined with some nice passing to put Luke Morahan through a hole and from the next phase, Brynard Stander muscled his way over the line to level things up in the first term.

It wasn't long before Meakes had a five pointer of his own after some fantastic team defense forced the Rebels to cough up possession.

Chance Peni made up for an early yellow card in the second quarter, weaving his way through some average Rebels tackles to launch a Force attack in prime field position after a dour 10 minutes to start the second term.

Jono Lance in action for the Force. Photo: WalmsleyPeni was rewarded for his run three phases later as he finished off another superb backline move from Lance and scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens, opening up a 15-5 lead at half time.

It was more of the same to start the third, as a defensive breakdown penalty turned into a try for Luke Morahan.

The icing on the cake came as some more crisp passing off the back of a lineout split Melbourne up the middle and gifted Alex Newsome the final try of the night.

Fresh Force recruit Tatafu Polota-Nau kept a lid on the hype post match but said the team had executed in the areas that they had honed in on.

"I thought we went well - I think there were a few focus spots we mentioned coming into the trial and we executed the majority of it," he said.

"Overall I think we are taking good shape coming into the start of the season."

It wasn't a great night for Nic Stirzaker and the Melbourne Rebels. Photo: WalmsleyRebels coach Tony McGahan was not as pleased but said the Force must be given full credit.

"I thought the Force were really good, they were really committed, really well organised, they really won the battle around the contact and we made too many unforced errors," he said.

"I know it's the first trial but all in all we are disappointed that we didn't get into the game at any point, really."


2017 Super Rugby Trial

Force 27

Tries: Stander, Meakes, Peni, Morahan, Newsome, Con: Prior

Rebels 5

Tries: Cummins