Super Rugby AU

Gritty Waratahs fightback to beat spirited Western Force

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The Waratahs beat the Western Force 23-14 in Super Rugby AU at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney.

The NSW Waratahs overturned a 14-point deficit. They kept the Force scoreless in the second half while scoring 23 unanswered points themselves to claim the win.

The victory breaks a four-game losing streak against fellow Australian teams even if it was against a side that has not played Super Rugby since 2017.

Will Harrison’s boot and tries from Angus Bell and Tom Staniforth saw the Waratahs over the line in a tricky match against the unknown Force.

The stand-off kicked three penalties and two conversions in a flawless display from the tee.

Byron Ralston scored the Perth-based team’s only try on return to Super Rugby in three years.

Ian Prior’s boot helped his team to a handy lead, but a blow before the break seemed to break the visitors’ spirits as the Tahs took control.

The visitors started strong, while the hosts look rugged in the first half.

The Western Force took a handy 14-point lead after 37 minutes thanks to Ralston’s debut Super Rugby score and three penalties from the trusty boot of skipper Prior.

Tim Sampson’s men had the better of the first stanza’s possession (56%)and territory (60%), and they turned it into points.

The Force’s back row gave the Tahs all matter of problems, winning penalties at the breakdown, which allowed Prior to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Their kicking accuracy kept the Waratahs on the backfoot and inside their half, while their scrum held its own against their vaunted opposition.

But the Waratahs struck through Bell on the stroke of halftime to get Rob Penney’s side on the board.

Harrison added the extras to half the deficit as the teams went into the shed.

New South Wales needed that late score and it seemed to light a spark as they came out firing after the restart.

The home team scored 20 unanswered points as they took control of the contest.

Harrison added a penalty to reduce the gap to four points, six minutes after the interval.

The hosts increased the tempo; dominating territory and possession, but ill-discipline at the breakdown, sloppy handling and poor lineout play meant they did not have any more points to show for their work.

The visitors’ scrum started to take hold, winning penalties after bringing on the reinforcements.

Andrew Ready tackled Michael Hooper without the ball allowing Harrison to kick an easy penalty and make it a one-point ballgame on the hour.

Super Rugby AU Video Highlights: Waratahs versus Western Force at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney

NSW kept coming, scoring a minute later after a lucky 50-22 kick set-up an attacking lineout inside the opposition’s 22.

A few pick-and-drives later, Staniforth crashed over under the posts moments later. Harrison added the extras to make it 20-14 with 16 minutes remaining.

It was all Waratahs in the final quarter.

Harrison added his third penalty, on 74 minutes, to make it a two-score game, effectively ending any chance of an upset.

The Force were spent, but they did not disgrace themselves on their return to Super Rugby.

Final Score: Waratahs 23 (7) Western Force 14 (14)

Scorers

Waratahs
Tries – Bell, Staniforth
Pen – Harrison (3)
Con – Harrison (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Western Force
Tries – Ralston
Pen – Prior (3)
Con –
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1: Amy Perrett
Assistant Ref 2: James Quinn
TMO: James Leckie

Teams

Waratahs

15 Jack Maddocks, 14 James Ramm, 13 Alex Newsome, 12 Joey Walton, 11 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Mitch Short, 8 Will Harris, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachie Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Angus Bell

Replacements: 16 Tom Horton, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Tom Staniforth, 19 Jack Demspey, 20 Michael McDonald, 21 Ben Donaldson, 22 Karmichael Hunt

Western Force

15 Jack McGregor, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Nick Jooste, 11 Brad Lacey, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior (captain), 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Tevin Ferris, 6 Henry Stowers, 5 Fergus Lee-Warner, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Angus Wagner

Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Johan Bardoul, 20 Ollie Callen, 21 Jacob Abel, 22 Henry Taefu, 23 Kyle Godwin

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