The Western Force have kicked off Global Rapid Rugby in grand style with a 51-14 win over the Malaysia Valke, but Andrew Forrest’s new competition looks set to be brought to a crashing halt due to the coronavirus.

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Only about 2000 fans attended Saturday night’s match at Perth’s HBF Park, with many thousands more scared away by the rising spread of the coronavirus.

The decision of the New Zealand government to impose a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anybody travelling to the country is a big blow to Global Rapid Rugby (GRR).

Those restrictions apply to all countries except for Pacific nations.

The China Lions are based in the Bay of Plenty in NZ’s North Island, and were due to play three of their home games there.

But with NZ’s tough travel restrictions now in place and other countries following suit, the first season of GRR is now in grave doubt.

The Force at least got to play one game in Forrest’s new $1 million competition.

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And they were hot from the outset, piling on seven tries to two to seal an easy win against a Malaysia Valke side made up of South African players.

The Force were slick with their ball movement and took every chance to run, making the most of the law changes that promote attacking rugby.

Winger Brad Lacey scored two of the team’s five first-half tries, with centre Henry Taefu notching a nine-point power try for a play that started deep in Force territory.

Western Force coach Tim Sampson thanked the Sea of Blue fans who decided to turn up to support the side.

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“They’re so special to us,” Sampson said.

“We weren’t sure what to expect tonight after the last 48 hours about (potentially) playing games behind closed doors. So to see them turn up tonight, it’s pretty remarkable and we’re forever thankful.”

In other round one action, The South China Tigers posted an emphatic 52-27 victory over Manuma Samoa in Perth.

And the China Lions scor ed a hard-fought 29-22 away victory over the Fijian Latui at ANZ Stadium in Suva.

– AAP

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