It’s been a difficult start to 2012 for the Western Force with an understrength squad and plenty of turmoil off the field but everything seemed to click into place on Saturday night as they shocked the Queensland Reds in Perth.
A 49-15 win represented a massive turn around in fortunes as they had lost out by a single point to the Melbourne Rebels in their previous outting, with tries from James Stannard, Nathan Sharpe, Ben Seymour, Samu Wara and Matt Hodgson doing the damage.
The home side raced into a 21-0 lead in the first half, a gap which was ultimately too big for the lacklustre Reds to close.
The win moves the Force off the bottom of the ladder and up four spots to 11th, with boss Richard Graham hoping that his side can now find some consistency.
“Wins in isolation are easy in a sense because you get up for one or two games,” he says.
“The key for sides that are improving and good sides are that they win consistently and that’s the challenge for us over this next period of time.”
The aforementioned Rebels came back down to earth with a bang after their win against the Force as they faded badly in the second half of their game with the Highlanders to lose 43-12.
Melbourne lead 9-0 at one stage thanks to three penalties from Wallaby James O’Connor but tries from Adam Thomson (3), Ben Smith (2), Kade Poki and Jamie Mackintosh completed a resounding come from behind win.
It was a high scoring affair at Westpac Stadium in Wellington between the Hurricanes and the travelling Cheetahs with the South Africans claiming a 47-38 win.
The game saw ten tries in total as Cheetahs loosehead prop Coenie Oosthuizen helped himself to a brace, with the second turning out to be the matchwinner.
“It was definitely a great victory,” said Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss. “It was against a very good Hurricanes side and it’s a nice way to end the tour (of Australia and New Zealand).
“My guys have got that never say die attitude and so it’s a great honor for me to lead them and it’s a great place to start building from when we get back home.”
The Crusaders were another side to win away from home as they overcame the Lions 23-13 in Johannesburg thanks to tries from Zac Guildford and Sean Maitland.
Star outhalf Dan Carter made his starting return to Super Rugby action following a long spell out with a groin injury sustained during last year’s World Cup.
A 77th minute penalty from Peter Grant gave a much relieved Stormers side a narrow three point win over the Bulls.
The Bulls fought valiantly to overturn what was a 14 point deficit at one stage to leave the game finely poised at 17-17 before Grant stepped up to slot home his kick.
Three points was also the difference between the Brumbies and Sharks in Canberra with the latter coming through 29-26.
The Sharks looked comfortable as they led by ten points with just ten minutes remaining but a try from Nic White set things up for a frantic finale.
However, despite making 50 metres worth of ground during a five minute spell, the Tahs were unable to find a game winning score.
In Hamilton, New Zealand, the Chiefs put in a strong display to down the New South Wales Waratahs 30-13 as Robbie Robinson, Arizona Taumalolo and Liam Messam all bagged five pointers.