Force win the scrap to upset Reds at home

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Western Force have made their case for Super Rugby survival with a hearty 26-19 win against the Reds at nib Stadium.

The home side did it the hard way by throwing away several red zone opportunities through poor handling but they showed tremendous fight to grind their way to an ugly win.

Flashes of individual brilliance were the shining lights in a game marred by handling errors, as both teams battled to control the ball in humid conditions.

The decisive second half was dictated by the Force and their playmakers, as they turned the Reds around with some smart kicking and pounced on opportune errors by the visitors deep in their own half.

NRL convert Curtis Rona scored the match winner, as the home side took full advantage of Sef Fa'agase being sent to the sin bin in the 67th minute to remain the Reds' chief bogey team.Chance Peni was simply superb for the Force. Photo: Getty ImagesFlying Fijian Eto Nabuli was the star of the show for the visitors, nabbing a hat trick in the first 49 minutes and scoring a contender for try of the season, but it was not enough.

Adam Coleman suffered a serious leg injury, Jono Lance a rib injury and James Slipper a back injury in what was a physical affair.

Here's how the match played out.

It was the home side that troubled the scorers first, as they broke the franchise record for fastest try through a terrific backline move in the opening minute.

What started with a picture perfect lineout turned into clean ball for Jono Lance, who wrapped around Curtis Rona and held the Reds defensive line for just enough time to put Chance Peni through a hole.

Peni, who was arguably the Force's best through the first 40 minutes, sliced through the line and left three Reds defenders grasping at air as he ran 40m to score with 65 seconds on the clock.

It took 19 minutes for the Reds to trouble the scorers, with their second consecutive rolling maul paying dividends as Nick Frisby and Eto Nabuli made the most of a 2-on-1 situation to gift Nabuli his first five pointer of the night.

Force halfback Ryan Louwrens was in fine form tonight. Photo: Getty ImagesTwo minutes had passed when Nabuli lit up nib Stadium with a dashing run from 70m out to score.

A pilfer by young gun Adam Korczyk turned into clean turnover ball for the Reds and Samu Kerevi put Nabuli in space.

The flying Fijian showcased his big left foot step as he stepped three Force defenders before streaking away for a try.

The Force did not lie down, though, and some quick thinking from Matt Philip in his first run-on start saw him sneak over for a pick-and-drive try after Ryan Louwrens' quick tap and go from eight metres out sent the Reds scrambling.

With the score locked at 12-all at the break, Nabuli had his hat trick when Duncan Paia'aua spotted space behind a hasty Force defensive line and put in a neat grubber which bounced right into Nabuli's arms for his third.

The remainder of the half was filled with handling errors but dominated by the Force scrum, as replacement props Tetera Faulkner and Pek Cowan essentially earned their team six points through two scrum penalties against the feed.

A superb team try scored by Curtis Rona was the match winner for the Force, with one final Prior penalty the nail in the coffin.


Western Force 26

Tries: Peni, Philip, Rona

Cons: Lance

Pens: Prior 3

Queensland Reds 19

Tries: Nabuli 3

Cons: Cooper 2