Planet Rugby

Force floor the Crusaders

23rd April 2010 12:24

Share:

Kieran Read held against Western Force

Shocked: Force bring down Read

Western Force produced one of the upsets of the Super 14 season on Friday by flooring a shell-shocked Crusaders 24-16 at ME Bank Stadium.

It was a win born out of sheer guts and hunger in front of a much more vocal crowd than the Perth franchise have become accustomed to.

And the Force ultimately lifted their game to match their support for a victory that seriously dents the red and blacks' hopes of a home semi-final.

Unbelievably the Australians were 0-13 down at the break but John Mitchell, who always backed his team to produce when they were enduring their early-year slump, lifted his troops for a win that moves them up two places in the standings.

The first half did see some classic Crusaders rugby though - soaking up what was thrown at them before turning defence into attack at the other end. But most importantly, they made sure to take the points when on offer. Unfortunately for the Force, they did not do the same despite their territorial and possession dominance.

Richie McCaw's team looked to be on their way to four points when they came out of the blocks firing and they were over the try-line with just five minutes on the clock, some poor fringe defence at ruck-time from Ryan Cross allowing scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i to scoot in.

But that proved a false dawn for the Crusaders going off the next 20 minutes as the Force stepped up the intensity with ball in-hand, choosing to run a lot more than they kicked. Yet that aforementioned statistical dominance did not pay dividends on the board as the deficit remained at seven points following missed penalties from Brett Sheehan and then David Hill.

Then the seven-time Super 14 champions sensed their moment and, as is their wont, they made sure to take something from their brief visit to the hosts half. Their points came via the boot of Fotuali'i who, knowing that Jonathan Kaplan was playing a penalty advantage, sent over a rather scruffy-looking drop-goal for his team before Daniel Carter extended the lead.

Western Force were without James O'Connor but there was still ample entertainment on show, not least when the Australians realised their side was in with a shout of winning.

That unexpected turn of events arguably arrived due to the back-row battle being won by Matt Hodgson, David Pocock and Richard Brown, who edged Kieran Read, Richie McCaw and Thomas Waldrom in a mouth-watering contest between the six quality players.

Five minutes exactly it took for the Force to get themselves over the whitewash in the second period and it was that back-row trio who had a big hand in getting them going forward before Ben Whittaker squeezed over to close the gap.

The ever-steady David Hill converted and he was on-target again seven minutes later in adding the extras when Pek Cowan broke off a rolling maul to score following good lineout work from Nathan Sharpe, who put in another mammoth shift in the number five jersey.

Carter did restore the lead for the Crusaders with a well-taken drop-goal on 69 minutes but they could not deny the Force as they scored a wonderful breakout try that was started by hooker Nathan Charles. The replacement raced from his own 22 down the left before handing on to Tom Hockings who then found Hodgson on his shoulder to touch down.

Hill converted once again and was then successful with a late penalty to deny the beaten Crusaders the losing bonus point and send the Perth crowd wild.

Man-of-the-match: The calls, lineout takes, carries and intensity that Nathan Sharpe brought to the Force game was a big factor in how they won it. Another immense effort.

The scorers:

For Western Force:
Tries: Whittaker, Cowan, Hodgson
Con: Hill 3
Pen: Hill

For the Crusaders:
Tries: Fotuali'i
Con: Carter
Pen: Carter
Drop: Fotuali'i, Carter

Western Force: 15 Mark Bartholomeusz, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Ryan Cross, 11 Cameron Shepherd, 10 David Hill, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Matt Hodgson, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Ben McCalman, 3 Tim Fairbrother, 2 Ben Whittaker, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Tom Hockings, 19 Sam Wykes, 20 Justin Turner, 21 Sam Harris, 22 Dane Haylett-Petty.

Crusaders: 15 Sean Maitland ,14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Kieran Read, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ti'i Paulo, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Dan Perrin, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Sam Whitelock, 19 George Whitelock, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Dan Bowden, 22 Colin Slade.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
Sunday , April 27
Toulon vs Munster15:30
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs Edinburgh19:05
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs Harlequins20:00
Sunday , April 27
Wasps vs Bath13:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs Waratahs17:35
Brumbies vs Chiefs17:40
Sharks vs Highlanders19:10
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton 36 - 21 London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Report
Newcastle 18 - 23 SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 10 - 20 Ospreys
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens2080
2Northampton2071
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058