Super W: Western Force and the President’s XV play out a thriller in Coffs Harbour

Brumbies captain Michaela Leonard interview after her side's 30-5 victory over the Melbourne Rebels in Queanbeyan

The Western Force came out firing early, but the President’s XV got back in the game through some brilliant play to tie it up 17-17.

Welcome to the big time. It was the first chance to impress for the newly minted President’s XV, with the invitational side giving players on the cusp of higher honours the chance to compete on the national stage. An exciting squad selected from club rugby and the AON Uni 7s, the team brought the fight to the Western Force.

It was a wet and windy clash at C.ex Stadium in Coffs Harbour to close out round one of Super W. 

Led by star playmaker Trilleen Pomare, the Western Force side showed expertise in ball retention, holding the ball, building phases and putting pressure on their opposition throughout the game. 

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Moana Paul crosses over for the Force. Photo: Getty Images
Moana Paul crosses over for the Force. Photo: Getty Images

Western Force opened the scoring, with Paihau Pomare finishing off a sublime backline move to score in the corner, and followed it up when Katie Barnes was the beneficiary of a clever lineout move, trundling over to score. 

As Western Force No. 8 Claudia Foster put it, the opening stanza was “a half of two halves”. The PXV got into the game late in the first half thanks to Renez Bates, who was instrumental in getting the PXV going forward. Combining with Isla Norman-Bell, the duo started making important breaks with fancy footwork and direct running, forming a deadly playmaking combo. 

PXV captain Alex Sulusi fronted up with hard carries over the gain line and the forwards got through a mountain of work off the ruck, setting up camp in the Force’s territory for the back end of the first half. 

The Force’s defence finally opened up when Isla Norman-Bell put in a pin-point kick to set up an incredible try to Jasmin Hurriwai. 

The game came to life in the second half, with both sides showing off some slick moves, and taking advantage of broken play. 

Western Force continued to build their lead on the 58th-minute mark, with Ariana Hira bending the advantage line and getting off a stunning flick ball to put Moana Paul under the posts. 

The PVX stepped up their intensity, and hit right back through a try to a barn-storming Jemima McCalman. 

The powerful winger followed up with a second short-range try off the ruck after the PXV recovered a clever kick over the top of the Force’s defence, tying up the game late in the second half. 

It was a frantic finish to close out the game, with both teams looking to break through for the win. Hana Lane was unmovable over the ball all game, and managed a last-minute pilfer that salvaged the draw. 

Both teams were impressive with ball in hand, in particular the Force who looked cohesive and showed great handling and connection through the backs. Force skipper Trilleen Pomare was left to rue some missed opportunities from her team’s performance, and will have to front up against the all-star Waratahs on Sunday. 

Rebels Melanie Kawa post match interview after her sides 30-5 loss to the Brumbies


Thursday 24 May 2:00 pm AEST – Force v President's XV at C.ex Coffs International Stadium, Coffs Harbour, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport

FORCE (1-15): Grace Gayton, Shiane Kani, Sera Ah Sam, Katie Barnes, Mahalia Ellis, Anneka Stephens, Tamika Jones, Claudia Foster, Aiysha Wigley, Trilleen Pomare (c), Jessica Henry, Ariana Hira-Herangi, Moana Paul, Paihau Pomare, Macey Simpkins

Reserves: (16.) Brooke Mason, (19.) Teri-Josie Sciascia, (18.) Naomi Kamizona-Heke, (20.) Tui Cope, (25.) Jurara Turner, (21.) Emma DeCupper, (22.) Nicole Ledington, (23.) Langley Sesega

INs: N/A


PRESIDENT’S XV (1-15): Ayla Cook, Miki Trbojevich, Melissa Fatu, Kate Holland, Rosie Rbbage, Grace Qaranivalu, Hana Lane, Alex Sulusi (c), Paris Ingegneri, Isla Norman-Bell, Jemina McCalman, Vani Va’aga Arei, Katie Sampford, Renez Bates, Tylah Vallance

Reserves: Moniqca Mo’ale, Candice Clay, Karen Nabaluarua, Trudie Peterson, Emma Bradford, Jasmin Huriwai, Claudia Nielsen, Renae Nona

INs: N/A


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