The Western Force dismantled the Waratahs 40-11 at nib Stadium in Perth after a stunning display of opportunism and finishing in what was a heated Australian derby.
In a game played in wet, slippery conditions, it was the home team who kept their composure and eradicated silly errors from their game, winning with ease.
The Tahs, already on their summer holidays, were outscored five tries to one and melted like the Wicked Witch of the East in the Western Australian rain.
Jonno Lance played a cameo from the bench, scoring the Force’s fourth try and kicking two penalties and a conversion in what might be the franchise’s last ever Super Rugby match.
This was any Waratahs’ fan’s worst nightmare. After another poor season, the men from the east coast got hammered by a so-called weaker franchise.
Add to this, losses to every Kiwi team and humiliation at home against the Kings, and it does not make for good reading.
Retiring great Matt Hodgson started in his famous No.7 jersey in his final appearance for the Western Force at the Force Field.
Hanging up his boots at the end of the season, Hodgson earned his 140th Super Rugby cap for the Western Australian club, having made his debut in the club’s inaugural match against the Brumbies back in 2006.
Right from the get-go, the Force asserted their dominance. Alex Newsome scoring right after the kick-off to put the home team 7-0 up.
Bernard Foley reduced the lead to four with a penalty on seven minutes, but after Jake Gordon’s yellow card, the Tahs fell apart.
Tatafu Polota-Nau scored soon after. The Force went to their driving maul and bulldozed their way over the Waratahs’ try line; Peter Grant added his second conversion to make it 14-3 inside 15 minutes.
Foley’s second penalty kept the Waratahs within touching distance of their opponents, but it proved to be a false commodity.
The home team stepped up a gear in the final five minutes before the break, scoring twice through Marcel Brache and Lance, giving the Force a 20-point half-time lead.
soon after the restart, Michael Ruru pressured Michael Wells at the base of the Waratahs’ scrum which was on the visitor’s five-metres line.
The No 8 was stripped of the ball and all Hodgson had to do was put downward pressure on the loose egg as it rolled over the in-goal area. This effectively ended the match as a contest with the score at 31-6.
Lance kicked two penalties to extend his team’s lead to 37-6 with 10 minutes remaining.
Huge Roach scored near the end, giving the Waratahs some respectability of scoring a try, but Hodgson had the final say.
The Force legend kicked a last-play penalty to give his team a well-deserved 29-point victory over the 2014 Super Rugby champions: Cue bedlam.
Final Score: Force 40 (26) Waratahs 11 (6)
Tries – Newsome, Polota-Nau, Brache, Lance, Hodgson
Pen – Lance (2), Hodgson
Con – Grant (2), Lance
Tries – Roach
Pen – Foley (2)
Cards – Gordon (11th minute)
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Will Houston
Assistant Ref 2: Graham Cooper
TMO: Ian Smith
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Jono Lance, 23 James Verity-Amm.
15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Cam Clark, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Dean Mumm, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 David Lolohea, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 David McDuling, 20 Ryan McCauley, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Mack Mason, 23 Andrew Kellaway