Game 5 of World series Rugby saw Apia Samoa travel to the West to face the Force. Perth turned on some real rugby weather for the visiting Samoans, with driving rain and wind worthy of Canberra keeping the majority of the crowd tucked up underneath the stadium. The weather couldn’t stop the festivities though, with both the rousing Aboriginal “welcome to country” before the game in honour of Naidoc week and the Samoan dancers at half-time putting on a wonderful show that was much appreciated.
The players too were in a mood to entertain and were unafraid to spread the ball and play running rugby from the outset, regardless of the conditions. It was the Force who had the better of the early running, getting over from the tryline twice early for a quickfire 12-0 lead. There was a threat that the game could turn into a route when they scored their third, however the Samoans stabilised and started to threaten themselves. This led to the most exciting period of the game with both sides making numerous line-breaks, throwing the ball around with reckless abandon.The Samoans looked most likely to score during this period and were only one or two loose passes away from bringing the game right back into contention prior to half-time. As it was, the Force held on and went into the sheds 19-0 up after a thoroughly entertaining half of rugby.
A fourth Force try early in the second half seemed to take a little of the sting out of the contest for a time and the frequency of the handling errors increased as the rain came in heavier than previous. Neither side could really take the game on during this period as both teams struggled to gain any continuity as the ball appeared to become impossible to hold on to. That is until a Samoan intercept sparked their best passage of play that eventually resulted in the only try of the match for the islanders, triggering perhaps the loudest cheer of the match and sparking the potential of an unlucky late comeback.
It was the Force who stepped-up the intensity following this try and managed one of their own in response with a great initial break from the substitute half-back Isaak Fines setting up prop Chris Heiberg for a barnstorming run worthy of any outside back. This proved to be the final score of the night with the Force taking the game 33-5.
While the final score flattered the Force, they certainly did deserve the win. The Force played the conditions better than the Samoans, keeping it tight when required and using their kicking game to greater effect. The first three Force tries were all the result of some excellent work by the forwards close in to the line which the Samoans just could not stop. As a spectator, it was great to see both teams happy to chance their arms and play attacking running rugby even in very difficult conditions.
Andrew Deegan had another good game leading the backline around and Isaak Fines looked very lively when he came on in the second half. However the whole Force pack deserves the main credit for this win, as they were too good for their opposition when it mattered most tonight. Special mention goes to Chris Alcock and Johan Bardoul who both worked tireless all night and flanker Henry Stowers who bagged a first half brace.
All in all it was another great night of World Series Rugby.
Final score Western Force 33 – Apia Samoa 5
Photo gallery courtesy of Delphy