Planet Rugby

Waratahs take their chances

12th April 2008 13:57

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rob Horne try celebrations

He's eighteen, he's beautful, he's mine! Waratahs mob Rob Horne after his debut try

The Waratahs have continued their run up to the top half of the Super 14 with an opportunist 17-12 win over the Western Force at Subiaco Oval on Saturday.

Having spent most of the match under the cosh, Lachlan Turner popped up to grab a rebound from Cameron Shepherd's boot to power over in the corner for the clinching score ten minutes from the end.

In a belting finale to an otherwise ordinary game, the Force nearly nicked it. They had wave after wave of possession right by the Waratahs line adn then just as the ball looked ready to go wide and to the corner - as it had for the home team against the Bulls last week - up popped Turner to intercept and run the ball to safety. He could have run it for a coup de grace but for a wionderful tackle by Lachlan MacKay.

Once again - and just as the Brumbies did earlier in the day - the defence ruled the roost for the winners. Supposedly the ELVs have been designed to stretch defences, but the coaches, in Australia at least, appear to have wised up remarkably fast. Between minutes 10 and 13, the Force had no less than 17 phases of possession. They gained barely five metres.

The Force had several multi-phase possession attacks throughout the game but rarely made a dent. Their points came from a steady stream of penalties conceded by the Waratahs for offside, which other referees might have felt compelled to at least have issued a team warning for.

Matt Giteau nailed one, shortly before being knocked unconscious in a tackle on Sam Norton-Knight, and Cameron Shepherd slotted three more, also missing two.

Otherwise, the Waratahs were effective all over. It certainly was not pretty, very few Australian derbies are, but it was clinical. The line of white shirts stretched across the field in the channels and barely a tackle was missed. The Force did likewise, and it was left to one moment of inspiration to break the game in the first half.

With the scores standing at 3-3 - Beale had landed an early penalty after getting his team into the Force 22 by hacking ahead a loose ball - the Waratahs forwards forced a series of free-kicks and penalties in the Force's left-hand corner.

From the final free-kick, Wycliff Palu picked off the back of a scrum, and Beale linked on a pop pass with 18-year-old centre Rob Horne, who was unstoppable on the angle from 7m out. Beale added the extras.

But slowly, the Force pressure reaped the rewards. Shepherd missed a penalty in minute 28, but landed two more in minutes 33 and 37 to leave his team trailing by only a point at the break.

There was little change in an ugly game after the pause. Still more Force possession - they ended up with 63 per cent of both ball and territory - still more resilience from the visitors. Shepherd hit the crossbar with a penalty ten minutes into the second half, and finally gave his team the lead at 12-10 for the first time on the hour mark.

It was difficult to know where the turning point might come from. Lote Tuqiri tried in vain to inspire his men with some strong running but even when offloads did work, the defence swarmed and stifled. The same was true for the Force's forays.

In the end, it was Tuqiri who set up the winning move, although not quite how he would have liked. He accelerated onto the ball at pace, but with no gap in the line to tear through, he opted to grubber it. Shepherd stuck out a boot to intercept, and the ball flew up into the midriff of Turner at pace, who scorched home. Beale's stellar conversion ensured that the home team was left needing a try.

So the Force had ten minutes to score it. They came so close, not least running the possession through fourteen phases after the hooter had sounded, but having bashed and bashed at the Waratahs forwards by the posts, James Stannard finally decided to get the ball wide. Up popped Turner on the intercept, and Sheehan belted the ball to touch.

Man of the match: A candidate from each team here, with Richard Brown putting in some excellent work for the Force around the fringes, but Lote Tuqiri's leadership by example from the Waratahs wing nicks this by a whisker.

Moment of the match: Lachlan Turner's intercept in the final second

Villain of the match: A few silly high tackles, but nothing malicious. Cameron Shepherd might award this one to his right boot though.

The scorers:

For the Force:

Pens: Giteau, Shepherd 3

For the Waratahs:

Tries: Horne, Turner

Cons: Beale 2

Pen: Beale

Yellow card: Mafi (80, Waratahs, deliberate infringement)

Western Force: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Scott Staniforth, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Chris O'Young, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fava, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Tom Hockings, 3 Troy Takiari, 2 Tai McIsaac, 1 Pek Cowan.

Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 AJ Whalley, 18 Sam Wykes, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 James Stannard, 21 Lachlan MacKay, 22 Haig Sare.

Waratahs: 15 Sam Norton-Knight, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Dan Vickerman, 4 Will Caldwell, 3 Matt Dunning, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson

Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Al Baxter, 18 David Lyons, 19 Beau Robinson, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Matt Carraro, 22 Alfi Mafi

Referee: Brett Bowden (Australia)

Touch Judges: Paul Marks (Australia), James Scholtens (Australia)

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