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Western Force have Super Rugby finals dream shattered

By AAP
Carlo Tizzano of the Force reacts after the loss during the round 15 Super Rugby Pacific match between Western Force and Chiefs at HBF Park, on June 03, 2023, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

Western Force’s dreams of a first Super Rugby Pacific finals have been shattered in a 43-19 loss to the table-topping Chiefs in a do-or-die clash at HBF Park.

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The Chiefs rested plenty of stars on Saturday night, making 11 changes to the side that beat the Brumbies in the previous round to secure top spot.

But the depth and class of the New Zealand side shone through as they ended the Force’s unbeaten home run of six games.

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They were well drilled, had power across the park and bullied the Force, effectively sealing the win with four first-half tries.

They added two more after the break with the Force crossing three times.

Force’s fate was in their own hands after earlier results opened the door to a play-off berth but coach Simon Cron was forced to make two late changes.

He brought in Brazilian prop Wilton Rebolo – who has been playing club rugby in Perth – for his Super debut, replacing Argentine international Santiago Medrano, while winger Toni Pulu came off the bench to replace Zack Kibirige.

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The Force needed a fast start but their kicking game gave the Chiefs too many counter-attack options.

The Chiefs carried powerfully across the park and continually bent the Force line as the home side missed too many tackles.

The Force struggled to break the Chiefs defensive superiority and they dominated the opening salvos before second row Laghlan McWhannell crashed over inside eight minutes, with the try converted by Rameka Poihipi.

Chiefs full-back Shaun Stevenson sliced the defence open before Poihipi sent a pin-point kick to the corner for Anton Leinert-Brown for their second.

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Soon after Liam Coombes-Fabling picked off a Hamish Stewart pass to race home from 60 metres.

The Chiefs were in control defensively but the Force finally had a lengthy spell on their line and Carlo Tizzano squirmed over. Max Burey added the extras.

Their joy was short-lived when Samipeni Finau strolle d through poor defence for the Chiefs’ fourth try, co nverted, and they finished the first-half comfortably with a Poihipi penalty.

There was no let up for the Force after the break and scrum-half Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi quickly added more pain with the Chiefs’ fifth.

Cron made early changes from the bench and Tim Anstee won the race to a chip behind to score.

But the Chiefs were relentless and Pita Gus Sowakula went over from the back of a scrum.

Burey then produced a brilliant piece of individual skill, kicking ahead and somehow keeping it infield before winning the chase.

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