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Force shock Reds to claim maiden victory of the Super Rugby season

By AAP
Mac Grealy of the Reds reacts after the loss during the round five Super Rugby Pacific match between Western Force and Queensland Reds at HBF Park, on March 23, 2024, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

The Western Force have unleashed a six-try blitz to stun the Queensland Reds 40-31 in their Super Rugby Pacific showdown at Perth’s HBF Park.

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The Force raced out to a 21-0 lead inside 32 minutes on Saturday and were ahead 40-19 with 16 minutes to go, before the Reds launched a late fightback.

Tries to Fraser McReight and Jock Campbell closed the margin to nine points with five minutes remaining, but the Force held firm to deny the Reds a win or a bonus point.

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Jake White previews the Bulls’ Round 12 URC face-off with the Dragons

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Jake White previews the Bulls’ Round 12 URC face-off with the Dragons

The Force’s first victory of the season resulted in the unthinkable – relegating the mighty Crusaders (0-5) to the bottom of the ladder.

Queensland (3-2) slipped from second to fifth.

“It was unreal,” Force captain Jeremy Williams said of the win.

“We were very disciplined, and we were very patient when we were holding the ball.

“We executed really well. Our defence for the most part was really good.

“It’s pretty special. To see all the stuff we’ve been doing at training replicated on the paddock was really good.”

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The Force entered Saturday’s match with a 0-4 record and with coach Simon Cron declaring the time for talk was over.

Cron’s men defended grimly early on against the Reds, and their hard work paid off.

A quickfire counter-punch resulted in winger Bayley Kuenzle crossing in the 15th minute.

The Force’s hardness at the contest helped create their second try, with a counter-ruck on the Reds’ line allowing Thomas Franklin to touch down.

And it was 21-0 when an unmarked Chase Tiatia went over on the wing.

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Reds halfback Tate McDermott briefly stemmed the bleeding with a 35th-minute try – but his counterpart Nic White answered just 10 seconds before halftime to give the Force a 28-5 lead at the break.

McDermott scored his second try 90 seconds into the second period, selling a dummy to White and strolling over.

But Harry Wilson’s fumble of the restart handed the Force an instant reply, with the ball bobbling off the back-rower’s arms and head before Kuenzle ran in to snatch it and race to the line.

“Those things can happen,” Reds coach Les Kiss said of the fumble from Wilson.

“People don’t make mistakes like that on purpose, but those things were costly.”

There was a big thump of frustration from the Reds’ coaches box when Force flanker Carlo Tizzano fended off Ryan Smith in a 25-metre run to the line in the 54th minute.

Queensland sparked hope of a fightback with the final two tries of the match – but it was too little, too late.

The only downers for the Force were the loss of skipper Williams to a calf injury in the 27th minute, and a concussion to flanker Will Harris.

Reds centre Josh Flook was forced off in the second half following a head knock.

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1 Comment
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Shaylen 112 days ago

Everyone was hyping them up and now they have come crashing back down to earth. Still have got to go away to NZ as well.

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Michael 31 minutes ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Cant deny Christie is a good defender, box kicks well at times, BUT he’s a second too slow passing from the ground. Roigard, Ratima and Hotham will be our 2027 halfbacks I believe DMAC has played reasonably well in both games, so deserves to keep his place - his two breaks at Eden Park should have resulted in tries. Reece was really to blame for the Taylor failure - he stayed too wide, if he had come in a couple of meters the pass from Taylor would have worked. The Perofeta failure was extraordinary, he is normally such a good distributor, failure to draw in Steward was remarkable, failure to look inside was a shocker. Cory Flynn as lineout coach… umm something a miss here. Not sure who is calling the lineouts, but clearly we miss Whitelock’s leadership. Having a disfunctional line out really underminded the AB attack. But let’s remind ourselves Itoje is a master, and their tactics of going for the arms of the jumper on landing and pulling over was brilliant causing Paddy and Scooter to both fumble the balls. I am a Blues supporter so I like Talea, but if you play him on the wrong wing look out. While he’s not the fastest wing, he’s elusive and very industrious always looking for work. However, he’s not the tallest player, and everyone knows his weakness (a) being turned in defence - he’s slow to turn and react and (b) never jumps for high balls is normally out jumped. Personally, I find Recce and Talea too alike - Razor needs to couple them with another complementary partner Clark and Narawa respectively. However, for me the real troubling challenge is our mid-field. I am sorry Barrett & Ioane are a poor combo - either Barrett & Proctor or ALB & Ioane - but having two mid-fielders who are poor distributors is nuts. Jordie had a forgettable game in truth he missed so many tackles, which to be fair is unlike him. But sadly both Barrett and Ioane chose to bash first and rarely distribute cleanly.

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