Gutsy Force grind down Lions

24 May 2014
Gutsy Force grind down Lions

The Force made a triumphant return to Perth with a 29-19 victory over the Lions at the nib Stadium on Saturday night.

The home side secured a bonus point for scoring four tries buthad to work hard for the win, however, as the Lions were competitive throughout. The men from Johannesburg can consider themselves somewhat unlucky as a debatable yellow card issued to their prop, Corne Fourie, in the 35th minute had a huge bearing on the result.

With the visitors leading 9-3 referee Steve Walsh's decision to send Fourie to the sin bin, for not using his arms in a tackle on Nathan Charles, saw Matt Hodgson and Jayden Hayward scoring tries for the home side during the prop's 10 minute stint on the sidelines.

The Force opened the scoring via a penalty from Sias Ebersohn in the second minute but the visitors struck back, shortly afterwards with a three-pointer from Marnitz Boshoff.

The Lions extended their lead via two further penalties from Boshoff before Fourie's sin binning changed the course of the match. From the resulting penalty, close to the visitors' try-line, the Force opted to take a scrum against their numerically disadvantaged opponents and, after setting up a phase, Hodgson crashed over from close quarters.

Sias Ebersohn converted and shortly before the break, the Force were on the attack again and a long pass from Dane Haylett-Petty found Jayden Hayward in space and he had little trouble side-stepping Anthony Volmink before diving in at the right-hand corner to give the home side a 15-9 lead at the break.

The Force crossed the whitewash for the third time when Nic Cummins dotted down in the left-han corner but Walsh disallowed the effort after consulting the television match official, who ruled that Hayward had obstructed a Lions defender who was trying to tackle Cummins.

The next 20 minutes was an arm-wrestle and the only points during this period came via the boot of Boshoff, from the kicking tee, which narrowed the hosts' lead to three points.

That penalty seemed to jolt the Force back to life and in the 73rd minute Zack Holmes went over the visitors' try-line but a defender managed to dislodge the ball from his arm.

That setback did not deter the Force and a minute later Chris Tuatara-Morrison ran on to a flat pass from Holmes and broke through two tackles before scoring next to the uprights.

The Lions didn't surrender, however, and struck back in bizarre fashion. With the Force under pressure at a scrum, on their five-metre line, Ian Prior got the ball out to Cummins who tried to clear his line with a kick upfield. The ball sliced off his boot, however, and traveled less than five metres into the hands of Elton Jantjies who burrowed his way over the try-line.

Jantjies converted himself, and with the score at 22-19, and less than five minutes left, the Lions were still hopeful of having another crack at the Force's line.

That didn't materialise as the hosts were soon back inside the Lions' 22. Force skipper Hodgson secured the win and the bonus-point try when he spotted a gap at a ruck and barged over despite the attentionsof two defenders.

The result was a historical one for the Force as it's their eighth victory of the season - the first time they have managed this feat since their establishment in 2005.