Peter Grant kicked 18 points as the Force beat the Reds 40-26 in Brisbane on Friday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
With a combined total of six wins and 16 defeats this season, both teams were in desperate need of a positive result. In the end, the visitors prevailed, thanks to the accurate kicking of Grant, who was successful with all seven of his attempts at goal.
After a dull and error-strewn first half, the Force held a 13-5 lead, courtesy of two successful penalties from Grant and a try by Ross Haylett-Petty. The Reds got on the board after flyhalf Quade Cooper expertly set up Duncan Paia'aua for the opening try.
The one advantage the Force had in that opening stanza was a dominant scrum. And after receiving a penalty at the set-piece, Grant set a lineout inside the 22, putting the Force in a good position to drive toward the line, but they were penalised for obstruction 5m out.
The Reds then almost scored at the other end, but Grant made a sliding try-saving tackle on Nick Frisby. George Smith made the break and selflessly fed the ball to Frisby, who was held up and taken over the deadball line, leaving Smith probably wondering what might have been had he attacked the tryline himself.
The Force weren't exempt from butchering great chances inside the 22. While there was some solid defence, both teams were guilty of impatience and poor execution.
The second half saw more action. After the Reds closed the gap to a point with a converted try soon after the restart, the Force hit back with a quick-fire 10-point haul. Frisby conceded a penalty try and a yellow card for sticking his foot out while he was on the ground to prevent a certain score.
Undeterred by the double setback, the Reds continued to bash away at the Force defence, and from two penalties they set the line which resulted in two tries for Stephen Moore off the back of rolling mauls.
But Tatafu Polota-Nau and Marcel Brache then both scored tries (the latter a great team effort) to put the Force back in the ascendancy, before Grant slotted his fourth penalty to cap the win.
Reds – Tries: Duncan Paia'aua, Lukhan Tui, Stephen Moore (2). Conversions: Quade Cooper (3).
Force – Tries: Ross Haylett-Petty, penalty try, Marcel Brache, Tatafu Polota-Nau. Conversions: Peter Grant (3), automatic conversion. Penalties: Grant (4).
Reds – 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Samu Kerevi (c), 12 Duncan Paia'aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 George Smith, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sef Fa'agase.
Subs: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Kirwan Sanday, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Adam Korczyk, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Lachlan Maranta.
Force – 15 Marcel Brache, 14 James Verity-Amm, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Isireli Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Francois van Wyk.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Mitchell Short, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Luke Morahan.
Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images