The NSW Waratahs have fallen agonisingly short of winning their first match of the season, going down after the fulltime siren to the Western Force 31-30 at HBF Park in Perth.
In a perfect night for rugby in the golden west the Waratahs ran out looking for their first win of the season in Alex Newsome’s 50th Super Rugby match for the side.
The Western Force got off to a fast start with Lachlan Swinton harshly yellow carded in the 3rd minute of the match for a seemingly innocuous lifting tackle.
The Western Force took advantage of their numerical advantage straight way with former Waratah Tom Robertson crashing over from close range in the 4th minute. Domingo Miotti added the extras and a penalty in the 8th minute to give the hosts a 10-0 lead.
The Waratahs levelled the scores at 10-10 after Will Harris barged over from close range in the 16th minute and Ben Donaldson kicked a penalty goal in the 23rd minute.
Feleti Kaitu’u caught the Waratahs napping in the 25th minute ripping the ball off a teammate in a tackle and racing away 30 metres to score. Domingo Miotti again slotted the conversion and added a field goal in the 34th minute to give the hosts a 18-10 lead at the break.
The Waratahs dominated the early stages of the second half, stunning the hosts with back to back tries.
Izaia Perese, the Waratahs best on the night, allowed his side to get on the front foot with some damaging running up the middle of the park, giving Ben Donaldson time and space to put Jack Maddocks over in the corner in the 42nd minute.
Jack Maddocks featured heavily again, throwing a cut out ball to Alex Newsome to score in the corner in the 47th minute, a great reward in the wingers’ milestone match, giving the Waratahs a 24-18.
The match turned into an arm wrestle with Donaldson and Miotti trading penalty goals leaving the score at 30-21 to the Waratahs, entering the final eight minutes of the game.
Jordan Olowofela set up a grandstand finish for the match, scoring in the corner off a long cut out pass from Miotti in the 72nd minute after the Force sent wave after wave at the Waratahs line.
The Waratahs desperately tried to close out the game but lost a crucial lineout on their throw with just 10 seconds remaining. The Force maintained possession and slowly marched up the field after the siren and were awarded a penalty within kicking range in front of the goals.
Miotti again stepped up to the kicking tee and slotted the easy penalty to break Waratahs hearts finishing with an individual tally of 16 points.
The Waratahs now turn their attention to their next match against the Melbourne Rebels in the final round of the Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU on Saturday 24 April at Bankwest Stadium.
Force 31 (Tries: Robertson, Kaitu’u, Olowofela Conversions: Miotti 2 Penalties: Miotti 3 Drop Goals: Miotti) defeated Waratahs 30 (Tries: Harris, Maddocks, Newsome Conversions: Donaldson 3 Penalties: Donaldson 3) at HBF Park, Perth
WARATAHS (1-15): Angus Bell, Dave Porecki, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Hugh Sinclair, Max Douglas, Lachlan Swinton, Carlo Tizzano, Will Harris, Jake Gordon (c), Ben Donaldson, James Ramm, Lalakai Foketi, Izaia Perese, Alex Newsome, Jack Maddocks
Reserves: Tom Horton, Te Tera Faulkner, Darcy Breen, Sam Caird, Jeremy Williams, Charlie Gamble, Jack Grant, Tane Edmed
FORCE: (1-15): Tom Robertson, Feleti Kaitu'u, Santiago Medrano, Jeremy Thrush, Sitaleki Timani, Tim Anstee, Kane Koteka, Brynard Stander, Tomas Cubelli, Domingo Miotti, Jordan Olowofela, Kyle Godwin (c), Tevita Kuridrani, Richard Kahui, Jack McGregor
Reserves: Andrew Ready, Angus Wagner, Greg Holmes, Ryan McCauley, Fergus Lee-Warner, Ian Prior, Grason Makara, Jake Strachan