Force struggle with 'whistle happy' ref

Fri, Feb 19, 2021, 9:00 PM
Justin Chadwick - AAP
by Justin Chadwick - AAP
The Western Force hosted the Brumbies in Round One of Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU at HBF Park in Perth.

Western Force coach Tim Sampson was left to bemoan a "whistle happy" referee after watching his side crash to a 27-11 loss to the Brumbies in Perth on Friday night.

The Force conceded a whopping 10 penalties during the first half, with the home side giving up vital field position time and again to set the platform for the Brumbies' win.

The Brumbies conceded nine penalties themselves in the second half at the hands of referee Graham Cooper, and Sampson wasn't thrilled by the stop-start nature of the game.

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"We couldn't get the flow, we couldn't get into the game. We heard a lot of the referee's whistle tonight, which didn't help," Sampson said. 

"I thought he was pretty whistle happy; eleven-five (penalty count) at half-time against us, we were up against it.

"I think 16 penalties in 40 minutes of footy is a lot. We're trying our best to play good footy, and that's been the focus in the off-season with the officials." Sampson remarked. 

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"I think it was very stop-start - 16 penalties in one half of footy is not great viewing.

"When told the stats showed his team gave up 10 first-half penalties and not 11, Sampson replied.

"I had 11, so maybe I was a bit cranky and added one more."

The Brumbies had the game in the bag after running in three tries to set up a 27-5 lead.

But a try from Force scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli in the 76th minute robbed the Brumbies of a bonus point.

During the dying minutes, Brumbies coach Dan McKellar could be heard screaming from the coach's box: "I want the bonus point. Get the message to them that I want the bonus point"

Although the bonus point slipped through the Brumbies' fingers, McKellar was thrilled with the result.

"I can't let that cloud (the result)," McKellar said of the missed bonus point.

"We've come to Perth, big trip, against a good opposition, and it was an enormous effort by our boys. 

"It would have been nice to have picked up five points, but it is what it is, we get on it.

"If you'd said before the game, '27-11, would you take that Dan and Al?', we both would have said yep.

"The Brumbies will be back in action next Saturday when they host the NSW Waratahs in Canberra.


The Waratahs were thumped 41-7 by the Reds on Friday, and Brumbies captain Allan Ala'alatoa is expecting NSW to come out firing.

"Everyone is writing them off, so I'm sure they are going to come up on Saturday with a point to prove," he said. The Force have a bye next week.

Centre Kyle Godwin missed the loss to the Brumbies with an ankle injury, but Sampson is hopeful the former Wallaby will be fit for the round three clash with the Waratahs.

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