Forceful finish a fitting finale

The Western Force put an exclamation mark on their Global Rapid Rugby Showcase campaign, running in 10 tries, including two electrifying Power Tries, to maintain their unbeaten run and finish their final game with a 74-10 victory over Malaysia Valke.

Eight Force players crossed the try line with in-form scrumhalf Issak Fines and speedy fullback Jack McGregor each scoring a brace. After racing out to a 30-0 lead at half time the West Australian’s maintained their intensity to add another 44 points in a clinical display of hard running rugby.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 09: Issak Fines-Leleiwasa of the Force runs the ball during the Rapid Rugby match between the Western Force and the Malaysia Valke at HBF Park on August 09, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

A cagey first ten minutes saw the Valke applying pressure on the Force who also had to contend with losing starting hooker Feleti Kaitu’u to a lower leg injury. After some hard work by the forwards in midfield, a stunning chip and regather from Isaak Fines saw him touch down for the Force’s first points of the game with the conversion from Andrew Deegan bisecting the posts.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 09: Nick Jooste of the Force crosses for a try during the Rapid Rugby match between the Western Force and the Malaysia Valke at HBF Park on August 09, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The Force continued to exert pressure, with their fluid running game and obvious comfort with the rules holding them in good stead. Nevertheless, the Valke were able to fight their way into the game with a series of penalties pushing them down into Force territory. Their pack scrapped to keep the ball moving forward and mixed in with some hard lines from their outside backs started to pay dividends.

However, in true Rapid Rugby style, the Force struck with no warning. Nick Jooste with an outside break within ten metres of his try line passed the ball to Rod Davies who took advantage of a gap out wide and sped down the pitch. After some interplay between McGregor and Davies, Jooste found himself as creator and finisher of an outstanding 9 point power try.

The Valke showing plenty of effort and obviously keen to assert themselves in the power game, could not seem to find a way through. They were unable to maintain possession with their early forward pod carries and the Force pounced on handling errors and a lack of ruck control.

In an historic moment, Samuel Meran took the pitch as a replacement for the Valke, the first Malaysian rugby player to compete in Rapid Rugby. However, his introduction did not bring the Valke any respite from the Force assault. Locked in their 22m, Valke’s Errol Jaggers went for a chip kick to relieve the pressure. The kick was fumbled and Isaac Fines with all his predatory instincts swooped and weaved the 10 meters back to dot down under the posts. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors moments later when Force replacement hooker Heath Tessman found himself at the back of a short distance driving maul to extend the Force’s lead even further.

Half time couldn’t come quick enough for Valke. While they would have been hoping to make an early statement in the second half, the Force picked up where they left off.

Waves of Force attacks saw space open for Deegan to find McGregor out wide on a hard line and he strolled over untouched to extend the lead. The Valke seemed sparked into action with those points and began a concerted effort to claw themselves back into the game. Their perseverance on the Force line eventually paid off. A series of rumbling forward punches and quick thinking by the Valke fly-half Jaggers saw Andrew Van Wyk cut a beautiful line, step two Force players and dot down to put Valke on the board.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 09: Andrew Van Wyk of Malaysia Valke crosses for a try during the Rapid Rugby match between the Western Force and the Malaysia Valke at HBF Park on August 09, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The Force struck back almost instantly, regathering possession and marching down the field through a series of hard carries. McGregor finished off the hard yards, taking two Valke players with him as he crashed over for his second try of the game.

However, having got on the board once, the Valke were keen to get another taste and replacement prop Luxolo Koza made a barnstorming charge deep into the Force 22m and quick hands by earlier try scorer Van Wyk, put Koert Cronje into the corner.

The final 15 minutes belonged to the Force as they plundered four tries to keep an energetic and enthusiastic crowd on their feet. Fergus Lee-Warner started the stampede, followed by Andrew Deegan who latched onto the end of an outstanding dancing long range break by Leon Feke to score another Power Try.

Harrison Lloyd then found himself the beneficiary of his forward pack’s work ethic before making a final bullocking run, while the final nail in the coffin was delivered via an inch perfect grubber kick by Jonah Placid which found Chris Miller in the corner.

Western Force 74 – 10 Malaysia Valke

Western Force

STARTING XV: 1.Cameron ORR, 2. Feleti KAITU’U, 3. Tom SHEMINANT, 4. Jeremy THRUSH (C), 5. Fergus LEE-WARNER, 6. Tevin FERRIS, 7.Carlo TIZZANO, 8. Brynard STANDER, 9. Issak FINES, 10. Andrew DEEGAN, 11. Rod DAVIES, 12. Rodney IONA, 13. Nick JOOSTE, 14. Jonah PLACID, 15. Jack MCGREGOR.

RESERVES: 16.Heath TESSMANN, 17.Harrison LLOYD, 18.Chris HEIBERG, 19.Ben GRANT, 20.Jackson PUGH, 21.Ian PRIOR, 22.Chris MILLER, 23.Leon FEKE, 25.Ollie CALLAN, 26.Haluafa LAVAKA, 27.Dom HARDMAN.

Malaysia Valke

STARTING XV: 1.Juice GUMEDE, 2.Robey LEIBRANDT, 3.Heinrich ROELFSE, 4.Shane KIRKWOOD (C), 5.Jacques ALBERTS, 6.Thabo MABUZA, 7.Boela VENTER, 8.Friedle OLIVIER, 9.Anrich RICHTER, 10.Errol JAGGERS, 11.Leighton VAN WYK, 12.Grant JANKE, 13.Andrew VAN WYK, 14.Koert CRONJE, 15.Juan NEL

RESERVES: 16.Marco KLOPPER, 17.Luxolo KOZA, 18.Martin SITHOLE, 19.Wihan JACOBS, 20.Johan PRETORIUS, 21.Lundi RALARALA, 22.Rodney DAMONS, 23.Samuel MERAN, 24.Badrul Bin MUKTEE, 25.Franzwa SCHUTTE

First half

10:18I.Fines (WF)TryForce by 55 – 0
11:46A.Deegan (WF)ConversionForce by 77 – 0
24:14N.Jooste (WF)Power TryForce by 1616 – 0
28:08I.Fines (WF)TryForce by 2121 – 0
29:10A.Deegan (WF)ConversionForce by 2323 – 0
32:51H.Tessmann (WF)TryForce by 2828 – 0
34:22A.Deegan (WF)ConversionForce by 3030 – 0

Second half

1:31J.McGregor (WF)TryForce by 3535 – 0
2:49A.Deegan (WF)ConversionForce by 3737 – 0
11:36A.Van Wyk (MV)TryForce by 3237 – 5
15:12J.McGregor (WF)TryForce by 3742 – 5
16:22A.Deegan (WF)ConversionForce by 3944 – 5
19:09K.Cronje (MV)TryForce by 3444 – 10
22:16F.Lee-Warner (WF)TryForce by 3949 – 10
23:15A.Deegan (WF)ConversionForce by 4151 – 10
25:03A.Deegan (WF)Power TryForce by 5060 – 10
29:55H.Lloyd (WF)TryForce by 5565 – 10
30:45A.Deegan (WF)ConversionForce by 5767 – 10
35:00C.Miller (WF)TryForce by 6272 – 10
35:00I.Prior (WF)ConversionForce by 6474 – 10

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