A stellar second half against the Asia Pacific Dragons has boosted the Western Force to another big win, making it three from three for the West Aussies to open their 2019 Global Rapid Rugby Showcase campaign.
Four tries to nil after the break blew the game apart, the last coming after the final hooter when ‘Rocket’ Rod Davies chased down a beautiful through kick from Brad Lacey to cap off a memorable night for the home fans.
The Force had six individual try scorers, Johan Bardoul and Carlo Tizzano in the first 35 minutes, followed by Henry Taefu, Henry Stowers, Feleti Kaitu’u and Davies after the break. AJ Alatimu also had a major impact on the scoreboard, the Force flyhalf having a night out with the boot going six for six in conversion attempts.
With 11 international test players, the Asia Pacific Dragons were definitely not going to be a pushover and went toe to toe in the opening exchanges. The flair that the Dragons promised was evident from the outset with the visitors not afraid to throw the ball wide in a bid to expose any gaps in the Force defence.
Their efforts were rewarded after winning a penalty 30 meters out directly in front of the uprights. Kali Hala stepping up and kicking truly to put his name in the history books as the first points scorer for the Dragons in Rapid Rugby.
Eager to hit back quickly the Force came excruciatingly close to a try two minutes later when Marcel Brache was stopped just shy of the posts, but the very next phase saw Bardoul going over unmarked after a great offload from Alatimu.
As they did earlier, the Dragons pounced on a mistake from the home side when a relieving defensive kick floated out on the on the full. While the kick originated inside the Force defensive 22, Rapid Rugby’s new laws have taken away the safety net of the sidelines and the visitors made the most of the opportunity when big backrower Michael McKee found more space than he’s normally accustomed to and scored the club’s first try.
The final score of the half drew the biggest roar as Force teenager Tizzano finished a great forwards try, barrelling over from a couple of meters out. With plenty of bodies stacked on top it took the referee a few moments to determine if the ball was grounded but the hand went up much to the delight of 19 year old’s team mates and supporters in the stands.
With just four points separating the teams at the break it was anyone’s game, however a try to the Force five minutes after the restart made the equation difficult for the Dragons, while another at the 13 minute mark made it really tough for the visitors to comeback.
To their credit though, the Asia Pacific Dragons kept pushing and prodding the defence. Former Force player Mitchell Scott the most dangerous of the Dragons backs, making a number of darting runs and clever chip kicks to put the home side under pressure. The hard work unfortunately didn’t pay dividends as the visitors too often let the Force off the hook with handling errors.
Such is the pace of Rapid Rugby fresh legs are vital down the stretch and the Force made the most of their rolling substitutes as Kaitu’u and Davies made an important impact from the bench. With 10 minutes remaining the Force blooded another first gamer when Michael McDonald was injected into the game.
The Western Force sit comfortably at the top of the Asia Showcase Series ladder after collecting another six points (4 points for the win + 1 bonus point for winning by three or more tries + 1 bonus point for scoring four or more tries) from tonight’s performance. The Asia Pacific Dragons and South China Tigers can peg them back however as Rapid Rugby heads to Hong Kong and Singapore for four matches. View fixtures and ladder here.
Western Force 42 – 10 Asia Pacific Dragons
Starting XV: 1.Harrison LLOYD, 2.Heath TESSMANN, 3.Kieran LONGBOTTOM, 4.Jeremy THRUSH, 5.Johan BARDOUL, 6.Henry STOWERS, 7.Carlo TIZZANO, 8.Brynard STANDER, 9.Issak FINES-LELEIWASA, 22.AJ ALATIMU, 11.Brad LACEY, 12.Henry TAEFU, 13.Marcel BRACHE, 14.Clay UYEN, 26.Nick JOOSTE
Reserves: 16.Feleti KAITU’U, 27.Chris HEIBERG, 18.Tom SHEMINANT, 20.Leon POWER, 19. Tevin FERRIS, 21.Michael MCDONALD, 23.Rodney IONA, 25.Rod DAVIES
Starting XV: 1.Latu TALAKAI, 2.Sekonaia POLE, 3.Ropate RINAKAMA, 4.Louis CONRADIE, 5. Joketani KOROI, 6.Michael MCKEE, 7.Nili LATU (VC), 8.Naulia DAWAI, 9.Kurt HAMMER, 10.Kali HALA, 11.Mitchell SCOTT, 12.Latiume FOSITA, 13. Stacy ILLI (C), 14.Asaeli TIKOIROTUMA, 15.Junior LALOIFI
Reserves: 16.Michael LEA, 17.Taniela KOROI, 18.Haamea AHIO, 19.Erwin TU, 20.Declan MARTENS, 21.Leon FUKOFUKA, 22.Sireli BOBO, 23.Zac HARRISON JONES
Referee: Tim BAKER, AR1: Graham COOPER, AR2: Justin FOSTER
First half score
8:11 K.Hala (APD) Penalty Goal Asia Pacific Dragons by 3 [0 – 3]
10:17 J.Bardoul (WF) Try Western Force by 2 [5 – 3]
11:50 A.Alatimu (WF) Conversion Western Force by 4 [7 – 3]
16:24 M.McKee (APD) Try Asia Pacific Dragons by 1 [7 – 8]
17:09 K.Hala (APD) Conversion Asia Pacific Dragons by 3 [7 – 10]
21:36 C.Tizzano (WF) Try Western Force by 2 [12 – 10]
22:50 A.Alatimu (WF) Conversion Western Force by 4 [14 – 10]
Second half score
5:48 H.Taefu (WF) Try Western Force by 9 [19 – 10]
6:55 A.Alatimu (WF) Conversion Western Force by 11 [21 – 10]
12:30 H.Stowers (WF) Try Western Force by 16 [26 – 10]
13:30 A.Alatimu (WF) Conversion Western Force by 18 [28 – 10]
29:26 F.Kaitu’u (WF) Try Western Force by 23 [33 – 10]
30:56 A.Alatimu (WF) Conversion Western Force by 25 [35 – 10]
35:00 R.Davies (WF) Try Western Force by 30 [40 – 10]
35:00 A.Alatimu (WF) Conversion Western Force by 32 [42 – 10]