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Reds wreck Force’s Super 14 play off hopes

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The Reds torpedoed Western Force’s playoff hopes with a 29-12 upset victory in an all-Australian Super 14 rugby match on Friday.


The Reds bounced back from a troubled season for their third victory of the campaign, scoring three tries against the bumbling try-less Force.


While the Reds have little chance of reaching the semi-finals, the Perth-based Force were up until recently considered Australia’s best provincial team, yet three successive defeats have them dropping out of contention.


Force skipper Nathan Sharpe lambasted his team’s attitude, saying they “didn’t turn up mentally and paid the price” and describing the limp performance as their worst of the season.


The Reds with little to play for but pride, dominated territory and possession in the second half and ground out a determined victory, keeping the Force scoreless in the second half after leading 13-12 at halftime.


The Reds scored after just two minutes through No. 8 Leroy Houston off a driving lineout win and made the game safe with second-half tries to centre Morgan Turinui and replacement back Andrew Walker.


Rugby league convert Clinton Schifcofske chipped in with 11 points from a conversion and three penalties, while Wallaby Berrick Barnes landed a penalty.


The Force, who didn’t score a try for the second straight week, scored all their points through four penalties from fullback Cameron Shepherd.


They now have slipped to a 5-5 record.


The Reds were well served by inside halves Berrick Barnes and Quade Cooper, who swapped the first receiver role during the game, while veterans John Roe and David Croft were effective in the forwards along with No. 8 Houston.


The Force began the season well with two wins in South Africa and a creditable 24-29 loss at home to the six-time champion Crusaders, and now have just three matches left to press for a semi-final spot after a bye next weekend.


They play at home to the in-form Chiefs, an away match to the Hurricanes and a final home game against the Brumbies.


The Reds have a testing match in New Zealand next weekend against the Chiefs, who ended the Crusaders’ unbeaten eight-match run on Friday.


Sapa-AFP – Super14.com

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