Australia’s Western Force ended their seven match losing run in Super Rugby by beating Japan’s Sunwolves 22-40 at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo.
The Sunwolves got the perfect start as Akihito Yamada who had just returned from a month out due to injury scored the opening try in the third minute.
The Force hit back immediately though as Marcel Brache intercepted a long wide ball and raced in to level the scores.
Six minutes later Brache scored his second try and then another six minutes later he was in again for his hat-trick try which put the Force into a lead that they never surrendered and added further tries from Byrnard Stander, Ben McCalman and Angus Cottrell .
The Force outscored the Sunwolves by six tries to four.
The Force had the bonus point for scoring tries at the start of the final quarter but the Sunwolves finished strongly by scoring two tries by Kiwi centre Derek Carpenter and a second from Yamada which took the Force’s bonus point away from them.
The Force’s victory is their second from ten matches and the Sunwolves eighth from nine matches.
“Obviously it wasn’t the start we were after but the way we rebounded was superb,” said Force captain Matt Hodgson after his side snapped a seven-game losing run.
“I asked the team to be tough in those moments and I was happy we got the momentum back.”
“When their tails are up, they’re hard to defend against,” Hodgson said of the Japanese expansion side.
“I was just rapt we got away with a win.”
A plucky second-half display from the Sunwolves proved to be scant consolation for captain Shota Horie.
“We started well but then we started giving away penalties and got pushed back,” he shrugged as Sunwolves players posed for photographs with Japanese fans.
“We need to be more aggressive in enemy territory. There’s a lot of things we have to go away and think about. It’s a good lesson for the future,” Horie added.
Next week the Sunwolves host South Africa’s Stormers in Singapore while the Force have a bye.
Final Score Sunwolves 22 (5) Force 40 (26)
Tries – A.Yamada 2, J.Stewart, D.Carpenter
Con – Y.Tamura
Tries – M.Brache 3, B. Stander, B. McCalman, A.Cottrell
Con – I.Prior 4, P.Grant
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 1:Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 2:Aki Aso
TMO :Takashi Hareda
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14. Akihito Yamada, 13 Derek Carpenter, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 John Stewart, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9. Kaito Shigeno, 8 Ed Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6. Liaki Moli, 5. Fa’ Atiga Lemalu, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 2 Shota Horie (c), 1 Masataka Mikami
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Kizu, 17 Ziun Gu, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19. Yoshiya Hosoda, 20 Taiyo Ando, 21 Atsushi Hiwasa, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Mifiposeti Paea
1 Francois Van Wyk, 2 Harry Scoble, 3 Guy Millar, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 6 Byrnard Stander, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 8 Ben McCalman, 9 Alby Mathewson, 10 Ian Prior, 11 Luke Morahan, 12 Kyle Godwin, 13 Solomoni (Junior) Rasolea, 14 Marcel Brache, 15 Dane Haylett – Petty,
Replacements : 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Sitiveni (Stevie) Mafi, 20 Angus Cottrell, 21 Ryan Louwrens, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Semisi Masirewa