The Western Force has gone down to the Melbourne Rebels 21-17 after a slow first half performance, putting them on the back foot for the entire match.
The Force started the game slow, allowing the Rebels to dominate possession and back them up in their own 22. Their play at the breakdown was average, but not poor, with missed tackles being the story of the opening 30 minutes.
Mike Harris was able to beat Kyle Godwin across the left hand side of the field and score a try in the early stages. To add to the Force’s woes Dom Shipperly evaded Junior Rasolea to cross the line not long after.
The Force then began to find some ball carrying momentum and tightened up their defence after the 30th minute. They continued this play, which lead to an Alby Mathewson try almost directly under the posts.
Western Force coach Michael Foley said it was their first half efforts that put them on the back foot for the rest of the match.
“Early in the game there were a number of times where we actually had good possession and we would turn it over at the breakdown because we were too slow to get to the man,” he said.
“In defence we weren’t getting off the line, we were soaking up the metres there and they made good of those opportunities.
“We are getting moments that are good rugby against a side that prides itself on it’s defence, they were fresh and we finished over the top of them, but you’ve got to come into the game and you’ve got to fight from the start.
“You’ve got to fight those early battles and we are aware of that.”
During the second half the West Australian side were able to continue their strong ball carrying, and consistently broke the line but were unable to convert.
Steve Mafi was the most valuable player for the Force mainly for his dominant ball carrying and ability to burst through the line in the second half.
The Force then scored in the dying minutes after Pek Cowan crossed the line, but it was not enough. They were able to get inside the Rebels 22 and almost score the match-winning try, but turned the ball over and allowed a penalty, which then ended the game.
Looking forward to the South African tour over round six and seven, Foley said it is about the team regrouping and making sure they are prepared.
“We can go to South Africa and we can hang our heads low and worry about what has happened or we can keep moving forward,” he said.
“In my frame of mind, you go in and look at the opposition ahead, but the reality is, forget who the opposition is, we’ve got to be prepared to play out the 80 minutes to get there.”
The Force will play the Bulls next weekend at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria for their round six clash, before moving on to Durban to play the Sharks.