Planet Rugby

Blues blitz Force to stay in hunt

28th June 2014 14:06

Share:

The Blues stayed in the race for a playoff after a first-half flurry of tries helped them to a 40-14 victory over the Force on Saturday.

A quartet of touchdowns in 18 breathless first-half minutes left the home side, renowned for their defence and hardiness in their Perth stronghold, in complete disarray.

Fly-half Ihaia West scored 16 points, and it was he who got the Blues off the mark with the first try, followed up in rapid fashion by scores from Charlie Faumuina, Lolagi Visinia and Ma'a Nonu.

The second-half was a little more even as the Force toiled manfully to find a way back into the game, bagging five-pointers of their own via Nathan Charles and Brynhard Stander, but these were cancelled out by tries from Blues captain Luke Braid and Pita Ahki as things grew decidedly ugly for Michael Foley.

The Blues flew out of the blocks, mixing up their attack well thanks to smart rugby from West and Nonu in midfield, and corresponding imprecision and naivety from their hosts.

The fly-half first gathered a long kick ahead from George Moala to sprint clear for the opening points, before hulking tighthead Faumuina barged his way over from close-range after Alby Mathewson was twice charged-down.

West converted both scores, and when the outstanding Steven Luatua plucked the ball from a ruck minutes later as Jayden Hayward put himself under pressure, the ball was spread wide, the defence all at sea, and Visinia powered home down the touchline.

The pivot failed to convert from out wide, but the Blues - outsiders with most bookies - held an astonishing 0-19 lead with less than a quarter of an hour gone.

It didn't end there. Four minutes later, with the Perth crowd still reeling, the visitors secured the bonus point. Nonu batted aside some awful attempted tackles to thunder his way over the line from midfield; West converted with ease.

The Force were shell-shocked, staring a 26-point deficit in the face; they had barely gotten their hands on the ball. With 25 minutes gone, the hosts finally managed to build some concerted pressure in the Blues 22, drawing infringements, but failing to match their opponents' ruthlessness.

Credit to the visitors' defence for keeping them out, but after spending almost ten minutes in the red zone, it was more than a little embarrassing that the Force could not breach the line.

And so it remained until the break, the Blues pilfering, disrupting and dominating around the tackle area while Foley's men laboured away with one-dimensional attacking rugby that proved impotent against the Blues line speed and aggression.

The second-half began in much the same way - Rohan Hoffman had displayed a measure of leniency towards the spree of away infringements before the break, and after warning Braid yet again on 45 minutes, a further transgression saw Tom Donnelly sin-binned.

Still, however, the Force could not capitalise.

By contrast, when the visitors were handed dangerous field position and an opportunity to score, they were clinical, as the skipper himself drove over under the posts aided by four team-mates. West added the straightforward extras.

The hosts finally got on the scoreboard with fifteen minutes to play, hooker Charles burrowing his way over after a quick tap-penalty as some small reward for his own industrious performance, and Jayden Hayward converting.

But the Blues, perhaps making their own luck, profited again from excellent field position as an attempted grubber-kick ricocheted into the arms of the onrushing Ahki who strolled home for his side's sixth try, converted again by West.

The Force did manage to finish on a high as substitute Stander powered his way to the line for a converted try, but it counted for little as the visitors ended a 13-game losing streak on the road in some considerable style.

A spirited finale from the hosts, perhaps, but ultimately it was telling that the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Nick "Honey Badger" Cummins' appearance on the nib big screen.

The scorers:

For Western Force:
Tries: Charles, Stander
Cons: Hayward 2

For Blues:
Tries: West, Faumuina, Visinia, Nonu, Braid, Ahki
Cons: West 6
Yellow card: Donnelly (persistent infringing)

The teams:

Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Hugh McMeniman, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Solomoni Rasolea.

Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Pita Ahki, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 George Moala, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Luke Braid (c), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Peter Saili, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Francis Saili, 23 Tevita Li.

Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (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