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Ominous signs for Force after loss to debutants

Date

Chris Pike

Bruise the Force … Nick Cummins runs into trouble.

Bruise the Force … Nick Cummins runs into trouble. Photo: Getty Images

THE Western Force's season could already be in tatters after a 22-10 loss to Super Rugby's new boys the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.

The Kings dominated the second half at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to outscore the Force 17-0 to win their first game in the competition after replacing the Lions as South Africa's fifth franchise.

The Force were coming off a narrow loss to the Melbourne Rebels and now face the unenviable task of taking on the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld next weekend.

Sergeal Petersen of Southern Kings tackles Will Tupou of Western Force. Click for more photos

Force lose to debutant Kings

The Western Force fall victim to Super Rugby new boys, the Kings from Port Elizabeth. Photo: Getty Images

It's hard to know if the Force's poor goal kicking, concession of far too many penalties or a disappointing lineout let them down the most.

Captain Matt Hodgson was obviously disappointed.

''We had possession and the run of the game in that first 30, but couldn't put points on the board and we have to learn to put points on when we have possession,'' Hodgson said in his post-match interview.

''It's not only our goal kicking that lost us the game. It was the whole team effort that was not up to scratch tonight.''

Both teams missed early penalty goal attempts with Kyle Godwin off target for the Force and Demetri Catrakilis for the Kings.

While neither team's kicking improved, tries soon became the order of the night first for the Kings when 18-year-old winger Sergeal Petersen cruised to the try line after two disastrous kicking errors by the Force.

The visitors quickly hit back with back-to-back tries before half-time to Pek Cowan and Alfie Mafi.

They led 10-5 at half-time but the home side closed the gap by two when Catrakilis finally kicked the first penalty of the game to start the second half and he added another 12 minutes in to put the Kings in front 11-10.

Things got worse for the Force a minute later when Hugh McMeniman was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Ronnie Cooke.

The Kings took advantage of his absence with Petersen scoring his second try to put his team up 16-10 and it was 19-10 when Catrakilis nailed another penalty with 14 minutes remaining.

Another penalty with 10 minutes to go put the game out of reach.

Meanwhile, in Bloemfontein, the Sharks held off the Cheetahs for a 29-22 win on Saturday to open their season with an away win.

AAP

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