Two second-half tries have secured the Western Force a scrappy 17-11 Super Rugby victory over the Lions at Perth’s nib Stadium to avoid an embarrassing loss to the bottom-placed South African team.
The Lions scored the opening try of the game in the fourth minute through winger Michael Killian and led 8-3 at halftime, but the Force lifted after the break to seal only their third win of the season.
The home side’s possession dominance led to tries from David Pocock and Napolioni Nalaga and the hard-fought victory over a side coached by ex-Force mentor John Mitchell.
The Force returned after two losses in South Africa last week to lose to the Melbourne Rebels by a point, and things looked shaky in the first half against the Lions, who have only won win for the season.
It was the last game of the Lions’ Australasian tour after loses to the Chiefs, Blues and Reds before arriving in Perth.Each team lost a player in the first half with Lions inside centre Jaco Taute hurting a shoulder in the 29th minute and Force halfback Brett Sheehan leaving the field five minutes later with an abdominal injury.
Aside from a Killian’s early five-pointer, which came on the back of sustained phase play and a nice offload from fullback Andries Coetzee, there was little to inspire the 10,434 fans in the opening half.
The Force turned the tide in the second half, with skipper Pocock crossing in the 56th minute when he virtually carried four Lions defenders over the tryline.Then in the 70th minute, Nalaga beat three defenders himself to dot down and put the Force in control.
The Lions now return home to play the Sharks in Johannesburg next Sunday while the Force have the bye ahead of the break for the June international games.The Force’s next game will be on Saturday June 30 against the Brumbies at home.
WESTERN FORCE 17 (Napolioni Nalaga, David Pocock tries Ben Seymour 2 cons pen) bt LIONS 11 (Michael Killian try Ruan Combrinck, Elton Jantjies pens) at nib Stadium. Referee: Garratt Williamson. Crowd: 10,434.