You’ve got to feel for the Force. Not a lot of depth and without all their best players these Western warriors have…umm…’gone west’.
I think their season is just about over and despite the return of a few Super 14 quality players this week it might have been just that little bit too late.
The real warriors were the Waikato Chiefs and they eventually defeated the Force in a canter, although the latter displayed plenty of heart, they committed too many basic errors to put any real pressure on the Kiwis.
As I write, AC/DC are thumping it out just down the road in vibrant (and wet) Brisvegas at the old 1982 Commonwealth Games QEII Stadium.
I’m not sure which out of Hamilton or Perth would be the most pulsating city; however, when it comes to rock’n roll the Chiefs were streets ahead.
Their ‘heavy metal’ forwards, led by an aggressive Liam Messam, slowly gained the ascendancy throughout the match and when they unleashed their high voltage backs the Force were thunderstruck.
Let’s face it – for the Force (as ACCA DACCA would say) ” it’s a long way to the top after losing three in a row”.
The only element of faintly good news is that they have a bye this coming weekend which will help them regroup, although I’m not sure whether any of their wounded warriors will be returning during that break.
Their next assignment is the Reds at Lang Park in two week’s time. The last act to play there was Andre Rieu, which probably says it all.
However, this could be the Force’s first winnable game as the Reds lack of consistency continues.
In last night’s match the Chiefs led at halftime by only 13-6 after a Hika ‘the hooker’ Elliot try and a couple of Stephen Donald penalties.
James Rabbit O’Connor kicked two penalties in the first half and after some sustained pressure early in the second a few more to take the scoring in the 50th minute to 13-12.
Then the game turned and they were back in black as it all went funereal for the Force.
In the 57th minute, from an attacking lineout throw lost by the Force, Callum Bruce stepped around some average defence and Lelia Masaga’s pace outran the locals to score in the corner.
Stephen Donald converted and then some outlandish Cirque du Soleil play by the Chief’s’ backs, the Flying Cuzzy Bro’s (ball flicked back between legs by Barnum and then flicked on to the winger by Bailey) led to Masaga all but scoring again in that same damned corner.
Masaga’s low centre of gravity and strength produced a Jonah Lomu moment, pushing off Inman and running over Bart. This guy is one powerful bro’…..hula, hula, hula to my ten guitars.
A few minutes later from an attacking Chiefs’ scrum Colin Bourke forced his way over for a touchdown. Donald converted and it was 30-12.
Hell’s bells, the Chiefs then decided to throw caution to the wind, as you would when you’ve won three in a row on the road, but Ryan Cross was lingering around in their backline and intercepted a dolly to score. 30-19.
It wasn’t quite over yet with substitute Tim Nanai-Williams scoring a fine try, converted by Donald to finish 37-19.
For the Chiefs, Masaga was just dynamite or perhaps appropriately ‘TNT’.
As his play matures he is going to be a more regular All Black selection. Callum Bruce at inside centre was another who impressed with everything he did.
In their forwards Taumalolo, Elliot and Messam were the pick. Their workrate, application and skill level were a step above their opposites.
For the Force, Rabbit O’Connor’s first actual outing at No. 10 was relatively successful, despite the outcome.
I think that he should be developed as the next long term Wallaby flyhalf option when Gits departs – maybe next year after the RWC?
Sure Quade Cooper is maturing; however, this kid at just 19 has all the skills for the position and plays with such confidence and elan that it just can’t be ignored.
As for Berrick Barnes, I think he’s better suited to 12 but in my view is injury prone and a little overated.
The best Force back on the day was Brett Sheehan. Crikey, he’s an aggressive little bastard! He was into everything especially early on and the pressure put on him by Chris O’Young is obviously having an effect.
The rest of the backs were pedestrian apart from Scott Staniforth who, although he had limited opportunities, hasn’t lost his speed or skill.
In the forwards, Matt Hodgson again was a standout and lived life on the edge (as you should as a premier No. 7). Sharpey did his bit and Sam Wykes was prominent in the loose.
But it was Tom Hockings who caught the eye with a standout performance.
The Force’s best opportunity to arrest this terminal decline comes in two weeks against the Reds. Lose that game, and it’s the slippery slope on the highway to hell…..
Put his hand up: Brett Sheehan had a great game, was in everything and if you were in the trenches he’d be one of your first choices (along with Matt Hodgson).
Did himself no favours: Mark Barthomeusz returned from injury this week but his defence leaked and in attack offered little. It’ll be interesting to see where he’s selected in the next match with David Hill’s arrival.
Bolter watch: Tom Hockings‘ workrate, lineout performance and general play confirms that he is one to watch for the future.