Western Force upset Hurricanes 27-22 in a scruffy Super Rugby Pacific encounter at HBF Park, Perth.
Byron Ralston scored a 74th-minute try as the Western Force fought back to upset the fancied Hurricanes on a windy night in Perth.
The Force had not beaten the Hurricanes in their previous 10 Super Rugby matches and had not won at home going back to 2007.
More astonishingly is the fact that the Force had not won a game at HBF Park in their last eight attempts.
Things did not look good for the Western Australians when Salesi Rayasi crossed before the hour.
The Hurricanes seemed to be gathering momentum, while the Force looked leggy.
But wastefulness from the Kiwis allowed the Australians to stay in the game despite their own inadequacies on the attack.
Josh Moorby bagged a first-half brace as the Canes scored four times in Western Australia.
The hosts only managed three tries, but the boot of Ian Prior made the difference – that his forwards.
Aidan Morgan had a poor day from the tee, missing three from four conversions.
Santiago Medrano and Andrew Ready kept their side in the game with scores on either side of the halftime interval.
Medrano dotted down a minute before the break, while Ready scored five minutes after the restart.
Rayasi set up Brayden Iose’s second-half score, but the winger’s yellow card cost his side seven points when Prior converted Ready’s 45th-minute try.
Ralston scored late on to settle the Trans-Tasman contest in favour of the Aussies, who now await the result of tomorrow’s clash between the Melbourne Rebels and the Highlanders.
Prior landed two penalties and two conversions (10 pts) to go with an assist. The captain will remember his 100th Super Rugby game for the Force with much fondness.
If the Rebels can beat the Landers, the Force will play the Blues in Auckland next weekend. Should the Kiwis prevail, the Aussies are out.
The Hurricanes took a deserved four-point lead into the sheds thanks to a Moorby brace, but Jason Holland’s men could never pull away from their hosts
Jeremy Thrush went to the sin-bin after eight short minutes for interrupting TJ Perenara’s pass near the Force’s 22.
Nothing came from the attack; instead, it was the home team who turned pressure into points.
Prior kicked two penalties from three attempts to give the hosts a 6-0 lead after 18 minutes.
Tim Sampson’s side’s lead was short-lived.
Three minutes later, the visitors struck when Moorby weaved his way through the traffic before darting over the whitewash from close range.
The 23-year-old cut inside Jake Strachan, Brad Lacey, and Manasa Mataele, before slipping through Prior and Fergus Lee-Warner to score.
It was a showcase of his stunning dancing moves.
A poor pass by Rayasi for Wes Goosen sailed into touch. Goosen would have had a clear path to the try line.
It did not matter, however, because the Canes struck a minute later.
A sustained attack saw Morgan suck in two defenders on an angled run. The flyhalf fended off Ralston and Manasa Mataele before offloading to Moorby for his second.
Morgan kicked one conversion, but the Kiwis had a 12-6 lead before the half-hour mark.
Iose skipped down the touchline after collecting Rayasi’s offload following a swift backline attack.
Rayasi straightened and sucked in two defenders before getting his offload to the number eight to gallop away.
Sampson’s side struck on the stroke of halftime after an eight-phase attack.
The Force finally capitalised on their sustained pressure when Medrano bashed his way over the whitewash.
Prior converted as the home side trailed 17-13 at the interval, but they were still in the game.
The Western Force fight back to earn a hard-fought but deserved win over the Hurricanes, outscoring the Kiwis 14-5 in the second stanza
Thirty-eight seconds after the restart, Rayasi was yellow-carded for a deliberate knockdown.
The Australian’s driving maul is not up to standard. After failing with yet another attacking lineout opportunity, the forwards put together a powerful drive.
Ready flopped over the line to give his side a slender lead. Prior added the extras.
A 14-phase attack ended with an attacking scrum for the tourists.
Perenara went left to Moorby, who threw a long, floated cut-out pass to Rayasi.
The 25-year-old speedster, alone on the touchline, snatched the ball out of the air and burned Kyle Godwin to the corner flag.
Morgan missed another conversion, but Holland’s men had another lead going into the final quarter.
Moorby thought he had a hat-trick, but the TMO ruled out his treble.
Ardie Savea knocked on Jamie Booth’s inside pass into the hands of Moorby, but the replay kept the score at 20-22 to the visitors.
Sampson’s side withstood the Wellington side’s pressure and hit them late with a Ralston try.
With five minutes to play, the Western Force retook the lead after more sustained pressure broke the Hurricanes’ resolve.
The Force went through the phases, using decoys and runners on the angle before the Kiwis ran out of defenders, and Ralston dived over for the go-ahead score.
Michael McDonald converted, leaving the New Zealanders needing a try to win with minutes remaining.
The Western Australians won another crucial scrum penalty with less than a minute to go.
Reesjan Pasitoa did not kick the ball out, and Holland’s team mounted a last-ditch attack.
Somehow, the hosts managed to hold up an attacker and see out a stunning upset win over New Zealand opposition.
Final Score: Force 27 (13) Hurricanes 22 (17)
Tries – Medrano, Ready, Ralston
Pen – Prior (2)
Con – Prior (2), McDonald
Cards – Thrush (Yellow, 8′)
Tries – Moorby (2), Iose, Rayasi
Con – Morgan
Cards – Rayasi (Yellow, 41′)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1: Graham Cooper
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Kaminski
TMO: Kyle Burnett
Western Force: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Brad Lacey, 13 Bryon Ralston, 12 Richard Kahui, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Reesjan Pasitoa, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Jackson Pugh, 7 Tim Anstee, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Ryan McCauley, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 William Sankey, 20 Jack Winchester, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Kyle Godwin.
Hurricanes: 15 Josh Moorby, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Bailyn Sullivan, 12 Billy Proctor, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Aidan Morgan, 9 TJ Perenara (captain), 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Caleb Delany, 5 Justin Sangster, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Pouri Rateke-Stones.
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Blake Gibson, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Teihorangi Walden.