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Western Force make it six in a row over Highlanders

Date

Nathan Burdon

Highlanders 29 Force 31

On the run: Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders.

On the run: Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders. Photo: Getty Images

The Force are a special sort of bogey team for the Highlanders – although it’s difficult to say exactly why – with the Perth-based team scoring their sixth straight win over the Highlanders.

The Highlanders are probably wishing they hadn’t had their bye.

Before last weekend’s break they had beaten the Blues at home and pushed the Chiefs, the best team in the competition, in Hamilton.

Hayden Parker of the Highlanders scores despite the best efforts of Nick Cummins.

Hayden Parker of the Highlanders scores despite the best efforts of Nick Cummins. Photo: Getty Images

Time
80.00
Team
HIG
Score
29
Team
FOR
Score
31
Highlanders versus Force
View Match Statistics
Players Treeby (31min), Fekitoa (59min), Parker (78min) Tries 3 Tries 4 Players Charles (3min), Ebersohn (25min), McCalman (38min), Rasolea (55min)
Players Sopoaga 1/2 (50%), Parker 0/1 (0%) Conversions 1 Conversions 4 Players Ebersohn 4/4 (100%)
Players Sopoaga 4/5 (80%) Penalty goals 4 Penalty goals 1 Players Ebersohn 1/1 (100%)
Players Drop goals 0 Drop goals 0 Players

After having a week off they looked passive and indecisive at key moments against a Western Force team full of vigour after a breakout win over the Rebels last week.

And it was those key moments which meant the Highlanders were left wondering what might have been after their late comeback came up agonisingly short in a 31-29 loss.

The Force did it the hard way too, down to 14 men for the final eight minutes after Glen Jackson got sick of their high penalty rate and No.8 Ben McCalman was binned for a tip tackle on Chris King.

Alby Mathewson of the Force looks to off-load.

Alby Mathewson of the Force looks to off-load. Photo: Getty Images

How frustrating was this game for the Highlanders. They could see space and numbers out wide but they were finding it hard to exploit it.

When they did, the cover defence by the Force was good enough and their defence in the closing stages was nothing short of exceptional.

Despite packing a dominant scrum, the Highlanders didn’t get much payoff from that set piece. There were few attacking opportunities for Ben Smith, and they weren’t able to put the Force away despite having two more men.

The Force took a 21-16 lead into the break after scoring three soft tries. Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman was having a game to forget, throwing the pass which Sias Ebersohn picked off to scamper half the field and score under the posts, and then missing a tackle on McCalman which saw the big No.8 crash over just before half-time.

Some dodgy lineout throwing added to Coltman’s misery and he was swapped for Ged Robinson with half an hour to go.

The Highlanders were looking good at scrumtime and that platform allowed Aaron Smith, to thread through a neat grubber kick for Shaun Treeby to score.

It was a rare moment of success in the Force 22m, however, with the Australian side happy to give away penalties at their end rather than let the Highlanders get to the line.

The McCalman try was a heart-breaker for the Highlanders, who had fought their way into a two-point lead on the back of some accurate goal kicking from Lima Sopoaga, only to head into the shed down 21-16.

The game was effectively over before the final quarter when Junior Rasolea brilliantly charged down Sopoaga’s attempted clearing kick, the ball sticking in his arms and allowing him to skirt the defence and score the Force’s bonus point try in the corner.

Ebersohn landed his second sideline conversion of the game to give the Force a 15-point lead.

With 20 minutes to go there was the inevitable comeback from the Highlanders, Malakai Fekitoa grabbing his second try in a Highlanders jersey when he crashed over close to the ruck when the Highlanders finally got the chance to play on despite the Force’s persistent infringing when defending their own line.

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
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