Planet Rugby

Shepherd herds first home win for Force

09th March 2007 13:08

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Cameron Shepherd scored a try and kicked an injury-time conversion to secure a dramatic first home win for the Western Force, an 18-17 triumph over the Hurricanes in Perth on Friday.

Coming back from conceding a 78th-minute try and the lead, Shepherd went over in the left corner after the hooter for full-time had sounded and then kicked the conversion in a swirling Subiaco Oval wind to secure the first ever home win for the Force.

What a finish! What an incredible finish! It was even a bigger thriller than the one in Durban the week before.

Into the last five minutes, the Force led 11-10, but the Hurricanes were battering at their defences after a sharp break by Tamati Ellison. They were at the posts. Neemia Tialata picked up and tried to propel his bulk forward. He stretched towards the padding of the post. The referee referred the matter to the TMO who examined - over and over while the tension in Subiaco Oval stretched to agony. Then the TMO advised that Tialata had lost the ball at the padding, centimetres from scoring a try.

The relief was enormous.

Scrum to the Force, five metres from their line.

The scrum fell down. The referee reset it.

The scrum fell down. The referee reset it.

Then the Hurricanes got a powerful shove on and won a tighthead. A tighthead. They went left to Jimmy Gopperth who spun this way, then that - and he got the ball over the line. The try was awarded - not that the crowd, seeing the replay, agreed.

Gopperth converted. 17-10. There were a few seconds more than two minutes left.

The Force kicked off to their right where there were few players and the Hurricanes made a fatal error. They did not control the ball but knocked it into touch. It was the Force's line-out just in the Hurricanes' half.

Paul Cannon threw in. Up went Nathan Sharp. Round came Cannon and Sharpe gave him the ball. Cannon threw a long pass to his right to Scott Fava who drove into a pod of Hurricanes. Down he went but the Force got the ball back and kept going left - Chris O'Young to Matt Giteau. Ellison tackled Giteau. Back the ball came to the Force going right. Junior Pelesasa cut back strongly going left and was tackled. Richard Brown picked up and darted ahead playing to Fava who surged over the 22.

There was now just a minute to play.

The ball came back to the Force, going right. O'Young darted and then the ball was stretched wide to the right touch-line where Gareth Hardy was brought down a metre or so from the line.

Dared anybody in Subiaco Oval breathe?

Giteau played scrum half, Pelesasa bashed ahead, O'Young passed to Giteau going left and he threw a long, perfect pass to Cameron Shepherd who had just brave Paul Tito between him and the line. In Tito's tackle Shepherd got over for the try in the corner.

17-16 to the Hurricanes.

80 minutes were up. The siren sounded the fact.

Shepherd took the ball back to kick it in the swirling night wind in Subiaco Oval.

It was Durban all over. Pienaar had done it there.

Shepherd did it in Perth.

The ball soared high and true and the whoops of delight sounded from Subiaco Oval and over the whole or Perth and on into the Westralian night. The Force had beaten the Hurricanes. The black of the Perth night turned to gold. History had been made.

Were it not for the finish, it would have gone down as a scruffy match of little continuity.

For a start the scrums were scruffy. In the first six there were seven resets, two penalties and two free kicks. That was not fun.

The Hurricanes battled for possession early on. They first put the ball into a scrum after 21 minutes and into a line-out after 28 minutes. They were in the game only to defend, which they did well after the first Force try, which happened after only three minutes.

At the first scrum of the match Tialata was penalised. The Force kicked out and won the line-out, forced a tackle from which they got quick ball and gave to Drew Mitchell who ran on an angle to beat Corey Jane and score. 5-0.

Gradually the Hurricanes got into the match and attacked through some good work by Blair Stewart, chosen in the place of Gopperth. Tana Umaga bashed at the line. Knocked down but not held he rose and surged over for a try, which Stewart converted.

The Hurricanes led 7-5 at half-time.

Shepherd kicked a penalty, Stewart kicked a penalty, Shepherd kicked a penalty and the score was 11-10.

The good moments were fleeting - clever work by Alby Mathewson that could have resulted in a try and a counterattack by Mitchell which could also have resulted in a try.

The match ground on till suddenly it burst into fireworks on the night sky.

It was a night to remember. It was a rugby match to celebrate.

Man of the Match: Nobody on the field was braver or battled harder than veteran Paul Tito. Then there was Scott Fava, full of bustling endeavour. Both fullbacks had great, running games - Drew Mitchell and Corey Jane. But our Man of the Match, for sheer nerve to match his skill, is Cameron Shepherd who helped the Force to make history.

The scorers:

For the Western Force:

Tries: Mitchell, Shepherd

Con: Shepherd

Pens: Shepherd 2

For the Hurricanes:

Tries: Umaga, Gopperth

Cons: Stewart, Gopperth

Pen: Stewart

Yellow card: Luke Andrews (Hurricanes, 42 - professional foul, early tackle)

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Scott Staniforth, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Junior Pelesasa, 11 Cameron Shepherd, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Matt Henjak, 8 Scott Fava, 7 David Pocock, 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 David Pusey, 3 Troy Takiari, 2 Tai McIsaac, 1 Gareth Hardy.

Replacements: 16 Brendan Cannon, 17 Angus Scott, 18 Rudi Vedelago, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 Chris O'Young, 21 James Hilgendorf, 22 Digby Ioane

Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Tana Umaga (c), 11 David Smith, 10 Blair Stewart, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Serge Lilo, 6 Luke Andrews, 5 Bernie Upton, 4 Paul Tito, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Tone Kopelani, 1 John Schwalger.

Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Bradley Mika, 19 Hayden Hopgood, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Jimmy Gopperth, 22 Ma'a Nonu/Tamati Ellison

Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)

Touch judges: Christie du Preez (South Africa), Matt Goddard (Australia)

Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)

Assessor: Andrew Cole (Australia), Tony Dunlop (New Zealand)

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