Force overcome the Kings in high-scoring thriller
The Western Force and Southern Kings have played out a high-scoring thriller at nib Stadium in Perth this afternoon.
With the axe hovering over both teams for Super Rugby beyond this season a barmy autumn afternoon greeted them and those in the sea of blue.
The home side took a 15-7 lead into the main break before the floodgates for the five-pointers opened as both teams traded nine tries between them in the second half. The Western Force prevailing in the end 46-41.
Early infringements helped the Southern Kings into a scoring position. Lionel Cronje though was unable to put the visitors ahead after four minutes with his first penalty goal attempt going wide of the posts.
Jono Lance ensured the home side were on the board first through his own penalty goal in the ninth minute. Matthew Philip had gone close a minute earlier to scoring a five-pointer playing the penalty advantage.
A team effort from the restart saw the home side stretch their lead out to 10 points. The Haylett-Petty brothers, Dane and Ross, combined in the midfield with a clever offload from Ross finding Lance for the first five-pointer which was swiftly converted.
The Kings had their chances as they set up camp inside the Force defensive 22-metre area. However handling errors denied them several try-scoring opportunities.
After a patient seven minutes pressuring the Force line Justin Forwood crashed over from a penalty when Ross Haylett-Petty failed to release the ball. Cronje slotted the conversion and the margin was only three points.
Having been tested in defence the momentum swung back to the Force who were able to launch their own attacking raid just before half time. Quick hands allowed winger Alex Newsome to cross in the left corner for a 15-7 lead at the main break.
The Kings had the territorial advantage 62-38% in the first half while the Western Force led the possession statistic 52-48.
The visitors began the second half with a blistering line break that saw Yaw Penxe cross in the right corner while Malcolm Jaer sprinted away to cross in the left corner a couple minutes later which put the Southern Kings ahead 19-15.
The Western Force responded and regained the lead in the 48th minute when Dane Haylett-Petty emerged from the pack after being spotted grounding the ball near the posts.
Southern Kings however would not go quietly with Cronje putting through a clever grubber kick for which Makazole Mapimpi gathered and crossed for the Kings fourth try in the 51st minute.
A Penalty goal from Lance in the 56th minute though saw the Force regain the lead 25-24.
Jaer then completed his hat-trick of tries in the space of two minutes, from some razzle-dazzle by Cronje in the 63rd minute then and intercept which saw the Kings out to a 38-25 lead.
Blistering free-flowing Rugby also saw Newsome cross for his second five-pointer which kept the Force within reach, trailing 38-32 with 13 minutes remaining.
Ben McCalman was held up though moments later the Force were awarded a penalty try from the scrum to reclaim the lead 39-38.
The relentless pressure from the Force continued as they scored again with five minutes to play through McCalman. Looking into the sun Ian Prior converted for a crucial eight point lead.
Kings’ replacement fly-half Pieter-Steyn de Wet calmly slotted the 40-metre penalty goal attempt and reduced the margin back to five points, however the home side held on in the closing stages to take the match in a high-scoring thriller.
Next week, the Southern Kings take on the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday afternoon, while the Western Force have the week off hosting the Chiefs on the evening of Saturday April 22.
2017 Super Rugby – Round Seven:
Western Force – 46
Tries: Jono Lance, Alex Newsome (2), Dane Haylett-Petty, Penalty Try, Ben McCalman
Conversions: Jono Lance ¾, Ian Prior 1/1
Penalty Goals: Jono Lance 2/2
Drop Goals: Nil
Southern Kings – 41
Tries: Malcolm Jaer (3), Justin Forwood, Yaw Penxe, Makazole Mapimpi
Conversions: Lionel Cronje 4/6
Penalty Goals: Lionel Cronje 0/1, Pieter-Steyn de Wet 1/1
Drop Goals: Nil
Crowd: 8,474 @ nib Stadium, Perth
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (RSA)
Half Time: Western Force 15-7
Western Force: 1 Ben Daley, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 4 Matthew Philip, 5 Richie Arnold, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 7 Matt Hodgson, 8 Isireli Naisarani, 9 Michael Ruru, 10 Jono Lance, 11 Alex Newcome, 12 Bill Meakes, 13 Marcel Brache, 14 Chance Peni, 15 Dane Haylett-Petty. Reserves: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Pekahou Cowan, 18 Shambekler Vui, 19 Richard Hardwick, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Curtis Rona.
Southern Kings: 1 Schalk van der Merwe, 2 Michael Williemse, 3 Justin Forwood, 4 Irne Herbst, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 6 Chris Cloete, 7 Andisa Ntsila, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 9 Louis Schreuder, 10 Lionel Cronje, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 12 Luzuko Vulindiu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 14 Yaw Penxe, 15 Malcolm Jaer. Reserves: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Tyler Paul, 21 Ricky Schroeder, 22 Wandile Mjekevu, 23 Pieter-Steyn de Wet.