The Force have come away deserving one-point winners against a Waratahs side that lacked both intent and execution.
David Pocock’s men held onto their 21-20 lead when a last-minute charge from Tahs led to a turnover after the bell and a kick into touch from Nathan Charles.
Last week’s game against the Highlanders took it out of the Tahs, and Michael Foley echoed that in his post-game interview, though it was no excuse for the dour and uninspired performance they strung together.
The Waratahs were on top early on and a try to Adam Ashley-Cooper off the back of a solid rolling maul gave the impression the Force were in for a long night.
But the opening few minutes was as good as the Tahs got, and both teams struggled to get quick, clean ball for most of the match.
Tom Kingston scored the Tahs’ second try against the run of play from what looked a lot like a Sarel Pretorius knock-on.
The Force hit back straight away with a penalty to Dave Harvey and the score at half time was 14-13 with the Tahs ahead, despite having less than a 25 per cent possession.
The game-changer happened early in the second half.
Adam Ashley-Cooper had a try disallowed after referee Jonathan White ruled Rory Sidey had been obstructed in defence by Rob Horne.
Just like any other well-executed decoy move – Horne sucked Sidey in and AAC slid around the outside and in.
It was a bad read in defence and nine times out of ten it would have been try.
But it takes away from the Force to put their win down to one call from White. The Tahs still had ample time to build pressure and get points, which they didn’t do.
Instead, the Force got their heads up and started to build pressure, leading to a try to Samu Wara off a Nathan Charles pass that Quade Cooper would have been proud of.
After that they stuck it out and held onto the ball for dear life while the Tahs did little with the few opportunities they had with the ball.
Bam led the Force well, Sharpie had a blinder and James Stannard looks more comfortable every week.
The Force pack just got stuck in and did their job. Richard Graham said their gameplan was to target the Tahs’ set piece and breakdown, and it got them the win.
I don’t know what it is and it’s the same watching the Wallabies sometimes, but with about 20 minutes to go I thought ‘well that’s it, the Tahs aren’t winning this’ even though the points difference was small and the Force were hardly tearing the game apart.
Something about the Waratahs looked and felt off tonight, and the fans knew it too.
They booed in the 74th minute when Halangahu kicked into touch on the full and they booed again at full time.
If last week didn’t kill off the Tahs’ title hopes then this week almost certainly has. They’re now one lonely win from four in their worst start to the season since the late nineties.
Force 21 (Harvey, Wara tries. Harvey 1 con. Harvey 3 pens.) def Waratahs 20 (Ashley-Cooper, Kingston tries. Halangahu 2 cons. Halangahu 2 pens.)
How did you see the game – were the Force great or the Tahs atrocious?