Planet Rugby

Blues salvage a draw

12th March 2011 09:25

Share:

david smith force v blues

Denied: The Force will have to wait a little longer for their first win

The Force were denied their first victory of 2011 after Blues replacement pivot Stephen Brett kicked a penalty in injury time to secure a 22-22 draw in Perth on Saturday.

It must have felt like a defeat for the Force, who will be kicking themselves for letting this one slip after leading their trans-Tasman rivals by ten points with five minutes left to play.

However, a yellow card to replacement forward Jono Jenkins was followed by a converted try to Blues skipper Keven Mealamu as the visitors' late surge threatened a certain Force victory.

In the end, the Blues would have been happy to salvage a draw - which keeps the Force winless in the all-new Super Rugby tournament this season ahead of their trip to South Africa, where the Lions and Stormers await.

O'Connor had a golden night with the boot, nailing his first six shots on goal and also unleashing a spectacular try-saving tackle on Blues full-back Isaia Toeava in the second half.

But it wasn't enough for the Force, who must be wondering just what they must do to notch a win after their heartbreaking one-point loss to the Reds in Round One.

Blues pivot Luke McAlister - named man of the match last weekend against the Lions - had a nightmare start with the boot, missing two sitters that saw six points gone begging after as many minutes.

Instead, it was the Force boasting a 6-0 lead thanks to two successful shots at goal from McAlister's opposite number James O'Connor who converted sustained pressure on the Blues' line.

There was then good and bad news for the Blues - the good news was that McAlister finally found his target in the 18th minute with his third attempt, the bad news was the exit of lock Ali Williams from the pitch after pulling a hamstring.

McAlister made it two from four a few minutes later to level the scores (6-6). It was a fair reflection of a closely-fought spectacle as both teams had numerous promising attacks thwarted by exceptional defence - Jared Payne's try-saving hit on Alfie Mafi the best of the bunch.

The two pivots traded another penalty between them (9-9), before a scintilating break-out from O'Connor ended with lock Sam Wykes over the chalkdust for a try. Or so it seemed. The ref went upstairs to question Wykes' grounding, and after several replays - the TMO ruled against the try being scored.

It was a decision that could have gone either way.

But it only seemed to pump up the Force even more, and it was fitting that Wykes put centre Nick Cummins over in the corner on the stroke of half-time - a try that couldn't be disputed. O'Connor belted over the touchline conversion to put the Force into a handy 16-9 lead at the break.

The second half was a frustrating one for the Blues who fluffed a try-scoring opportunity early on with Toeava undoing all his hard work by ignoring Joe Rokocoko on his outside and spilling the ball forward with the line at his mercy.

The battle of the boot between McAlister and O'Connor continued but the Blues were in desperate need of a five-pointer after the Force fly-half slotted over his fifth penalty of the night to extend his side's lead to ten points (22-12) with a quarter of the match remaining.

But from there the Blues hit back with the converted Mealamu try. With less than 15 seconds remaining, referee Nathan Pearce penalised the Force forwards for going over the top, with Brett kicking truly from 39m out on a slight angle to break the hearts of the 15,931 fans on hand.

The scorers:

For Western Force:
Tries: Cummins
Cons: O'Connor
Pens: O'Connor 5

For Blues:
Try: Mealamu
Con: Brett
Pens: McAlister 4, Brett

Western Force: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Alfie Mafi, 13 Nick Cummins, 12 Gene Fairbanks, 11 David Smith, 10 .James O'Connor, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson, 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Tim Fairbrother, 2 Ben Whittaker, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Tevita Metuisela, 19 Jono Jenkins, 20 James Stannard, 21 Matt Brandon, 22 Pat Dellit.

Blues: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Toby Morland, 8 Chris Lowrey, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu (c),1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 John Afoa, 18 Kurtis Haiu, 19 Luke Braid, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Stephen Brett, 22 Sherwin Stowers.

Referee: Nathan Pearce (Australia)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins vs Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Preview
Saturday , November 22
Exeter vs WaspsExeter vs Wasps Preview
London Irish vs BathLondon Irish vs Bath Preview
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Preview
London Welsh vs Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 22
Italy vs South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Preview
Scotland vs TongaScotland vs Tonga Preview
Ireland vs AustraliaIreland vs Australia Preview
Wales vs New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Preview
England vs SamoaEngland vs Samoa Preview
France vs ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Preview
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 21
Dragons vs MunsterDragons vs Munster Preview
Scarlets vs Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Preview
Connacht vs ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Preview
Ulster vs OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Preview
Edinburgh vs Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
Tonga 40 - 12 USATonga vs USA Report
Wales 17 - 13 FijiWales vs Fiji Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 14
Gloucester 15 - 22 HarlequinsGloucester vs Harlequins Report
Northampton 18 - 24 ExeterNorthampton vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 18 - 20 ArgentinaItaly vs Argentina Report
Canada 13 - 23 SamoaCanada vs Samoa Report
More International Match results
LV= Cup
Cardiff Blues 19 - 13 Scarlets
Ospreys 35 - 51 DragonsOspreys vs Dragons Report
Sunday , November 9
Wasps 43 - 22 London Irish
London Welsh 9 - 18 Gloucester
Leicester 29 - 13 Sale SharksLeicester vs Sale Sharks Report
More LV= Cup results
International Match
Saturday , November 8
Italy 24 - 13 SamoaItaly vs Samoa Report
Wales 28 - 33 AustraliaWales vs Australia Report
England 21 - 24 New ZealandEngland vs New Zealand Report
Georgia 9 - 23 TongaGeorgia vs Tonga Report
Ireland 29 - 15 South AfricaIreland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton726
2Exeter724
3Bath724
4Saracens724
5Wasps720