Convincing Win Keeps Tahs Hopes Alive

The Western Force have gone down against a Waratah’s outfit looking to keep their finals hopes alive at nib stadium in front of 10,194 vocal fans in a match that was plagued with unforced errors by the home side.

The Force opened the scoring in just the third minute, with Jayden Hayward converting an early penalty after AJ Gilbert failed to release the ball.

Oliver Atkins would open the scoring for the visitors however just five minutes later and Brendan McKibbin was more than capable enough to put the ‘Tahs four points up.

And a minute later, Cam Crawford would heap more misery on the home side, after a moment of clarity from Drew Mitchell saw him carve open the Force defence with a pass, and Crawford put it down for his seventh of the season.

McKibbin converted, and the hosts had it all to do with both sides playing a tough brand of football as the Force needed to step up their game to match the intensity of the visitors.

Despite a good patch of play from the Western Force, the visitors would score again from a penalty, after Angus Cotterell failed to clear the ruck, putting the Force two converted tries behind on the scoreboard.

The Force would get a five-pointer on the scoreboard however, with Loosehead Prop Pek Cowan powering over the line, however designated kicker Hayward could not put it home, drilling it left of the uprights.

And to cement a frenetic opening 25 minutes, Mitchell collected his second assist of the game as Tom Kingston was put over to give the ‘Tahs the lead they held to the break, after McKibbin again failed his conversion.

The Force did have a late push for the try but sadly sniffed no further than their attacking 22 as they went in search of that elusive five pointer  to narrow the score at the break.

In the second half, the sun came out to play and so did the force with some great pressured play.

Jed Kelloway was sent to the bin for interrupting the play of the ball in the scrumhalf’s hands after the Force clearly won a ruck, giving the hosts the chance to pile more pressure and convert some of their play to points.

However unforced and forced handling errors wreaked havoc for the Western Force as time and time again they coughed up possession at the line.

With twenty minutes gone, and a man off the pitch, now was the time for Force to capitalise and flyhalf Sias Ebersohn broke through in an incisive linebreak, to offload to Kyle Godwin who scored to the right side of the southern end.

Hayward had to score from the 22, but couldn’t, locking the scores at 13-22 with fifteen minutes to play.

Brendan McKibbin would put the visitors ten points in front from a penalty, after Hayward failed to clear the ruck for the home side and with that, the Force’s numerical advantage also ended, with Kelloway returned to the NSW field of play.

The force continued to make silly errors and the Tahs capitalised first thru McKibbin from the penalty kick and then from Bernard Foley, the ‘Tahs flyhalf.

The Waratahs went looking for the bonus point they so desperately needed, but just couldn’t find it.

There was still a last bit of controversy however, as Peter Betham made a run for the far side, however it was deemed knock on and the visitors collected a handsome 15 point win.

Waratahs Coach Michael Chieka applauded his sides running pressure play, despite having a total of sixteen players out.

“Thats what you have to do, and when you’re in our situation, a lot of it was around not having fear to take someone on,” he said.

“What you dont need any talent to do is get up off the ground, chase kicks, run up and get up off the line… you don’t need talent to do that, you just need hunger”.

The Waratahs will take the win and must get the bonus point from their final match against the Reds in enemy territory at Suncorp to have any chance of a finals berth.

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Kristian Dwyer is a journalist with roots firmly entrenched in local Western Australian news specializing in politics and sport and a passion for delivering quality news to the masses. Kristian displays pedigree and quality in journalistic coverage and is a former recipient of the WA Football Media Guild Award for his work on the 2007 Coverage of the WAFL premiership with 990am information radio.

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