Inspired Force belt Rebels

08 Mar 2014
Inspired Force belt Rebels

An amazing first-half performance in Perth saw the Force hand out a 32-7 thumping to the Rebels in Matt Hodgson's 100th Super Rugby match on Saturday.

Such was the home side's dominance, that the opening half hour was utterly surreal.

Tries from Alby Mathewson, Luke Morahan, the centurion Matt Hodgson and then Angus Cottrell locked up a bonus point inside 27-minutes.

The second half didn't live up to the first however, with the Rebels grabbing a last-minute consolation through Telusa Veainu.

Everything went the Force's way in the opening quarter as they racked up 17 points in as many minutes.

Mathewson was sharp enough to spot the Rebels napping and scurried through a criminal gap on the blindside of the Rebels' defence to hand the hosts the early impetus.

Then Morahan followed it up in the far corner after Tom Kingston spilled a high ball, Kyle Godwin gathering before Jayden Hayward released the Wallaby flyer for a simple run-in.

It was a start completely against the run of form, given that the Rebels had impressed in their win over the Cheetahs the week before. It was also an acid test - if the Rebels had truly improved then maybe they could come back from this?

A surprising lead then just became bizarre. First, Hodgson scored on his 100th appearance to send nib Stadium into orbit. Then Cottrell, supplied by a beautiful offload from Junior Rasolea, wrapped up the bonus point to make it 32-0 after 27 minutes.

The Rebels then made two changes before half an hour, coach Tony McGahan searching for a solution, but you'd forgive him for possibly thinking the result was settled.

It was the visitors who came closest to scoring at the break, but aptly Mitch Inman was penalised going for the line.

Rightly so too, because the first half was all about the Force - the crowd at the nib Stadium rising to give the hosts a standing ovation as they departed for the break.

The Rebels' composure and confidence was understandably shot by the start of the second half, but Sias Ebersohn missed a couple of penalties to extend the Force's handsome lead.

Why the Force decided to switch tactics towards a kicking game, lead by the South African fly-half Ebersohn, when up 32-0 was unknown.

It was a wholly underwhelming second half, the Force knowing the five points were in the bag and with the shellshocked Rebels unable to produce a response and knowing the game was up.

The new aim was for the Force to keep an opponent scoreless for the first time.

It didn't happen thanks to Veainu's consolation try on the end of a Bryce Hegarty grubber, but the Force fans won't have cared. For 30 minutes, they were unbelievable.