The Western Force’s first hit-out for 2021 saw a number of new recruits stake their claim for a starting spot in next week’s season opener following a highly entertaining narrow loss to the ACT Brumbies at Viking Park.
The result against the reigning Super Rugby AU champions sets up a mouth-watering season opener between the two sides at HBF Park on Friday, February 19.
After a strong and confident start from the Force, the hosts fought back to maintain possession, but notable crucial tackles from the likes of Fergus Lee-Warner, Kane Koteka and Byron Ralston ensured the scores remained locked at 0-0 after the first period.
The Brumbies eventually opened the scoring with a rolling maul in the 40th-minute, as Lachlan Lonergan crossed the line.
The Force struck back swiftly in the 47th-minute, with former All Black Richard Kahui powering over the line from Tomás Cubelli’s quickly taken touch and pass.
Kahui’s try, which was converted by new recruit Jake McIntyre, signalled a strong period for the visitors with Jake Strachan’s blistering pace giving the Force the lead with a fantastic try.
Marcel Brache’s bullet pass to Brad Lacey saw the winger burst down the left-hand-side before eventually passing to Cubelli inside who then directed offloaded at the perfect moment to Strachan who raced away for a try, which was again converted by McIntyre to make it 14-7.
Kahui scored his second try in emphatic fashion showing blistering speed and great anticipation to intercept and score. McIntyre made it three conversions from three attempts to make it 21-7.
The Brumbies hit back in the 56th-minute with a penalty try followed by a converted try from former Force player Issak Fines in the 75th-minute to level the scores.
The Canberra side regained the lead in the 80th-minute with a rolling maul try and successful conversion.
The Force responded with local product Grason Makara touching down after reading Argentinian flyhalf Domingo Miotti’s clever grubber kick to the corner superbly. Miotti then showed great composure to convert and make it 28-26 in the Force’s favour.
A penalty goal in the 87th-minute saw the Brumbies snatch a dramatic win after an eventful and high-octane performance from the two sides.
– Western Force Rugby
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