Planet Rugby

Force outlast ill-disciplined Lions

19th March 2011 14:50

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nick cummins lions v force

Force try-scorer: Nick Cummins

The Western Force secured their first win of the season, seeing out the Lions 27-15 in a scrappy encounter at Coca-Cola Park.

Referees are often criticised for blowing the life out of games, but no fingers could be pointed at Mark Lawrence on Saturday, with both teams giving away countless penalties at the breakdown.

It was the Force who opened the scoring in wet conditions in Johannesburg, with centre Nick Cummins squeezing over in the right-hand corner after James O'Connor had opened up the Lions defence with a well-weighted chip over the top.

What followed was a period characterised by ill-discipline, with the Force attacking strongly but allowing the Lions back into the encounter with a slew of kickable penalties.

The Lions would have been well satisfied to have headed into the break just five points adrift having seen the men from Perth enjoy the best of both the possession and territory.

It was the home side who started the second-half strongly, making the most of having the ball in their hands for extended periods.

Despite the dominance they weren't able to make it count on the scoreboard until the 52nd minute. Having eventually grown tired of the constant infringements at the breakdown, Mark Lawrence proud a yellow card that had been coming for some time, with James O'Connor sent to the bin.

Jantjies added three more from the resulting penalty and when the pivot notched over a drop goal five minutes later the momentum was with the Lions with the final quarter looming.

However, a moment of brilliance from Cameron Shepherd saw the game shift in the Force's favour. Collecting the restart, the full-back broke down the right-hand touchline before chipping over the Lions defence. There appeared to be plenty of cover, but the Lions back three somehow conspired to allow Shepherd to regain possession and pass inside to Alfie Mafi who dived over for the try.

From then on it was one-way traffic, with the Lions struggling to get out of their own half, in part due to incredible indiscipline that both restricted attacking opportunities and allowed O'Connor to stretch the Force's lead with two more penalties.

Nathan Sharpe's men attacked feverishly in the closing stages as the wheels came off for the Lions but such was the nature of the encounter that the Force were unable to add to their score in the last ten minutes.

The scorers:

For Lions:
Pens: Jantjies 4
Drop: Jantjies

For Western Force:
Tries: Cummins, Mafi
Con: Shepherd
Pens: O'Connor 5

Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Jannie Boshoff, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Warren Whitely, 7 Joshua Strauss, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe (c), 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 Michael Rhodes, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Deon van Rensburg.

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 (c), 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Tim Fairbrother, 2 Ben Whittaker, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Tom Hockings, 19 Tevita Metuisela, 20 James Stannard, 21 Matt Brandon, 22 Pat Dellit.

Referee: Mark Lawrence

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