Force season finale a party of five

Saturday July 15, 2017

The Western Force have finished the 2017 Super Rugby season on a high, defeating the NSW Waratahs 40-11 at a rain soaked nib Stadium in Perth on Saturday evening.

While there is still an air of uncertainty over the future of the Western Australian based franchise they did their best to finish this season positively in both attack and defence while also sending veteran club skipper Matt Hodgson out on a winning note.

The night began brightly when Alex Newsome crossed inside the first minute, while a further four tries followed as the home side recorded their highest score and greatest winning margin to date against the Waratahs.

Best for the home side were Tatafu Polota-Nau, Alex Newsome and Jono Lance, all three were pivotal in delivering victory for their team.

Better players for the Waratahs in defeat were Israel Folau, Bernard Foley and Ned Hanigan.

Foundation player and current club captain Matt Hodgson donned the famous number seven for the last time in his illustrious Rugby Union career after 140 Super Rugby games with the WA based franchise.

Marcel Brache meanwhile returned to Perth this week from his International duties with the USA team and replaced suspended Chance Peni on the wing.

For the Waratahs, Taqele Naiyaravoro returned on the right wing, replacing Bryce Hegarty, who strained his hamstring last weekend, while Nick Phipps was named on the bench after overcoming his ankle injury.

Newsome crossed for the first five-pointer only 48 seconds into the match thanks largely to former NRL player Curtis Rona who provided the try-assist.

Foley went close at the other end five minutes later despite the hint of obstruction by Dane Haylett-Petty.

Jake Gordon became the sixth Waratah in the last four matches to be yellow carded as the visitors were penalised in the 12th minute for being offside.

With an extra on the field the home side capitalised through Polota-Nau for a handy 14-3 lead before inform fly-half Peter Grant left the field suffering from concussion.

The home side set sail into party mode as Brache and Lance crossed in the final five minutes for a 26-6 half time advantage.

Tensions boiled over from the second half kick-off though the referee quickly dispelled the mauling teams.

Hodgson had a farewell he is likely to remember for a while to come when he added his name to the scoresheet with a loose ball gather four minutes into the second half.

The Sea of Blue crowd stood and applauded former Wallaby and Waratahs veteran Dean Mumm when he was replaced in what was, like Hodgson, his own curtain call on a stellar Rugby career.

In the 57th minute, Lance narrowly missed a penalty goal attempt though Newsome almost provided one of the best rebounds with the try-line open when the ball came off the posts into his waiting arms.

Waratahs replacement forward Hugh Roach scored a consolation try for the visitors, while Hodgson completed his Rugby career with another fairy-tale moment, taking the penalty goal attempt in the final seconds.

For the Wallabies involved selection in the forthcoming Rugby Championship is next on their radars, while both Super Rugby teams will now look ahead to season 2018.

2017 Super Rugby – Round 17:

Western Force – 40

Tries: Alex Newsome, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Marcel Brache, Jonno Lance, Matt Hodgson
Conversions: Peter Grant 2/2, Jono Lance 1/3
Penalty Goals: Jono Lance 2/3, Matt Hodgson 1/1
Drop Goals: Nil

NSW Waratahs – 11

Tries: Hugh Roach
Conversions: Bernard Foley 0/1
Penalty Goals: Bernard Foley 2/2, Israel Folau 0/1
Drop Goals: Nil
Yellow Cards: Jake Gordon (12th min)

Crowd: 10,384 @ nib Stadium, Perth
Referee: Nic Berry (Aus)
Half Time: Western Force 26-6

Western Force: 1 Pekahou Cowan, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 4 Matt Philip, 5 Adam Coleman, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 8 Isi Naisarani, 9 Michael Ruru, 10 Peter Grant, 11 Alex Newsome, 12 Bill Meakes, 13 Curtis Rona, 14 Marcel Brache, 15 Dane Haylett-Petty. Reserves: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Jonno Lance, 23 James Verity-Amm.

NSW Waratahs: 1 Tom Robertson, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 3 Sekope Kepu, 4 Ned Hanigan, 5 Dean Mumm, 6 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 8 Michael Wells, 9 Jake Gordon, 10 Bernard Foley, 11 Cameron Clark, 12 David Horwitz, 13 Rob Horne, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 15 Israel Folau. Reserves: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Dave Lolohea, 18 Angus Taavao-Matau, 19 David McDuling, 20 Ryan McCauley, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Mack Mason, 23 Andrew Kellaway.