The Force overcame the ‘worst preparation in the world’ to give the ladder-topping Blues an almighty scare in a wild Super Rugby clash in the west on Friday night.
Somehow a 22-8 deficit was reduced to 22-18 from deep in the second half and the Force beat the Blues line for 26 phases before a turnover came cruelly hitting the home team in the 86th minute.
The Force opted for a simple rather than dramatic timeout, but as Justin Harrison pointed out in Stan Sport’s commentary: “One hit won’t be enough.”
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Still, it was an incredibly brave effort from the eighth-placed Force, who were unable to field a team in last weekend’s Super Round due to COVID-19 sweeping their team.
The “worst preparation in the world”, called it Morgan Turinui, after Blues full-back Zarn Sullivan finally kicked the ball safely to Perth.
There were three tries each, with Manasa Mataele, Jeremy Thrush and Bo Abra scoring for the Force, but none were converted, which proved costly.
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“I didn’t see that drama coming at all, but what a quality finish and a really entertaining game,” said All Blacks great Justin Marshall.
The Force are in an odd position with coach Tim Sampson out of a job at the end of the season and due to be replaced by New Zealander Simon Cron.
But Sampson’s message certainly resonated with his players this week.
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“We’ve been talking about bravery and courage, the Anzacs themes throughout the week and I’m so proud of my men to see it come to fruition, especially in the second half, holding the Blues scoreless, I can’t all simply not fault the effort,” said Feleti Kaitu’u, the well-spoken captain of the Force.
“I think we took a real turn tonight. For the most part, attitude and intention will take us a long way.”
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