The Western Force kept alive their hopes of making the Super 14 play-offs when they beat the hapless Cheetahs 45-17 in their Round 13 match in Perth on Saturday.
Although they still do need some other results to go their way, the seven tries to three win ensured they will go into the final week of league action alive and fighting.
The match was far more one-sided than even the score suggests. The Force were stupendous, the Cheetahs stupefied. The Force were focussed and sharp while the Cheetahs looked in dream land.
Two records were set during this match. The Force scored their highest score yet in Super 14 and the Cheetahs missed more tackles than any other side has done in Super 14 - 52 in one match. The 52 misses contributed greatly to the 45 scored.
For the Force this meant that their Super 14 rugby campaign was not over. For the Cheetahs there is just one more week of potential embarrassment left before their coach goes off to join the Springbok coaching staff - not good credentials to take with him.
The Force runners were brilliant - both wings, the fullback and both centres. Their successes started in the centre where there were strong runners for the Force in Matt Giteau and Ryan Cross against the Cheetahs' soft centres in Marius Joubert and Meyer Bosman. The only Cheetah back with any defensive capability was Eddie Fredericks on the wing.
The player with the best attacking capability was strong Digby Ioane on the wing. He was strong and fast and simply outstanding. Those that he could not beat with speed and swerve he beat with strength. He also wore boots of a different hue - one red and one blue - but then there is a dispute about his future, claimed to be promised to the Force and claimed to have signed for the Reds.
The Force ran from the start. The Cheetahs tried running from the start of the second half and at one stage they had got back to 21-12 and looked to be in contention till their tour stupor overhauled them and they longed for Bloemfontein. The Force were not interested in scoring anything but tries. In the first half the penalty count was 8-2 ion their favour but they did not kick once at goal even though they were encamped in the land of the shabby cats.
Scott Staniforth had the first run down the right and only a forward pass to Cross prevented the first try. Ioane ran free but it took just over a quarter of an hour for the first try and when it came it looked so easy. In fact it was probably easy all along as the Force may have paid the Cheetahs unwarranted respect.
From a line--out on their left the Force went right and Giteau got through a half gap which took out Joubert and Bosman and sneaked a close pass to Cross who scored. Giteau converted as he did five times.
Three minutes later Staniforth beat Cooke and Joubert near touch on the right before the ball went far left till only props were left and Ioane had an easy score. 14-0 after 19 minutes.
The Force settled on the attack with two five-metre line-outs and a tapped -penalty five metres from the Cheetahs' line as the visitors conceded penalties and Duane Vermeulen was sent to the sin bin when for the eighth time in the half the Cheetahs were penalised.
From a scrum James Hilgendorf gave a short pass to Staniforth and scored. It sounds simple. It was. That made the score 21-0 at the break. Why it was only 21 is a bit of a mystery.
The second half started so differently for the Cheetahs. Early in the match they had got close to the Force line with lots of pick-'n-bash but now, for the first time in the match, they started to pass the ball, and it made such a difference even if it did eventually fizzle out. At least the goodwill was there.
They battered at the line from a five-metre scrum and then suddenly sent it out to the right for an easy try for eccentric Phillip Burger. 21-5.
Five minutes later they made a penalty into a five-metre line-out and did the one thing they do better than any other side in the Super 14 - formed a maul and Ryno van der Merwe grounded the ball for a try. 21-12 with lots of time.
The promise was not realised at all. In fact it was soon smashed to smithereens when replacement prop AJ Whalley trundled over for a try after some brilliant one-handed passing by Tai McIsaac, the former waterpolo star. That was the bonus-point try.
McIsaac did some more waterpolo passing but then was on hand to end a splendid bit of Force rugby with a try in the corner. Bevin Fortuin kicked the ball a long way downfield but the Force threw in quickly and Drew Mitchell scorched down the middle of the field. There was some sharp passing before McIsaac forced his way over in the left corner. 33-12 with 20 minutes to play.
From a penalty and line-out the Cheetahs marched a maul some 20 metres down the field till Kabamba Floors peeled off to score.
Floors was on because Ollie le Roux had followed Jannie du Plessis in limping off and the scrums became uncontested - seven of them in the match.
The Cheetahs tried running from everywhere, even from behind their own line but the Force got two more tries, one by Staniforth and one by Cross as they laughed their way to a big victory.
Man of the Match: Digby Ioane.
For the Western Force:
Tries: Cross 2, Ioane, Staniforth 2, Whalley, McIsaac
Cons: Giteau 5
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Burger, Van der Merwe, Floors
Con: De Waal
Yellow card: Duane Vermeulen (Cheetahs, 35 - repeated infringements, hands in ruck)
Western Force: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Digby Ioane, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Scott Staniforth, 10 James Hilgendorf, 9 Matt Henjak, 8 Scott Fava, 7 Matt Hodgson, 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Rudi Vedelago, 3 Troy Takiari, 2 Tai McIsaac, 1 Gareth Hardy.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 AJ Whalley, 18 David Pusey, 19 David Pocock, 20 Chris O'Young, 21 Junior Pelesasa, 22 Haig Sare
Cheetahs: 15 Bevin Fortuin, 14 Eddie Fredericks, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Ronnie Cooke, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Falie Oelschig, 8 Ryno van der Merwe, 7 Heinrich Brussouw, 6 Duane Vermeulen, 5 Rory Duncan, 4 Corniel van Zyl, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Ollie le Roux (c).
Replacements: 16 Hans van Dyk, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Bian Vermaak, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Herkie Kruger, 22 Tiger Mangweni.
Referee: Paul Honiss (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand), Paul Marks (Australia)
Television match official: Andrew Lindsay (Australia)
Assessor: Andrew Cole