The Force beat the Kings 46-41 in a 12-try thriller in Perth on Sunday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Force and the Kings may be considered surplus to requirements when Sanzaar confirms the new Super Rugby tournament structure. Perhaps this influenced the tactics of both teams on Sunday.
Defence was an afterthought in an entertaining contest. Both teams played like there was no tomorrow, and overall the game produced 12 tries.
The Force led 15-7 at half-time. At that stage, the hosts looked to be on course for a comfortable win. The complexion of the match changed, however, after the break.
The Kings scored two tries in as many minutes. Lionel Cronjé and the lightning quick Kings back three proceeded to cut the Force defence to shreds.
Jono Lance kicked a penalty in the 56th minute to regain the lead for the Force. The Kings continued to attack, and continued to make inroads into the Force defence.
Cronje slid a grubber through for Malcolm Jaer to chase, and the fullback went on to score under the posts. Jaer completed his hat-trick a moment later by rounding the Force defenders on the right-hand side.
The Force then proceeded to score 21 unanswered points. A more direct approach paid dividends as they pressured the Kings pack and crossed the line three times.
Ian Prior converted that last try from the touchline to give the Force an eight-point lead as the final whistle approached. Pieter-Steyn de Wet goalled a penalty in the 77th minute to give the Kings some hope of a last-gasp victory, but the Force did enough to hang on.
The Kings should be disappointed that they fell short, but pleased that they started their three-game tour of Australia well and claimed a losing bonus point.
Force – Tries: Jono Lance, Alex Newsome (2), Dane Haylett-Petty, Penalty try, Ben McCalman. Conversions: Lance (2), Ian Prior. Penalties: Lance (2).
Kings – Tries: Justin Forwood, Yaw Penxe, Malcolm Jaer (3), Makazole Mapimpi. Conversions: Lionel Cronjé (3). Penalty: Pieter-Steyn de Wet.
Force – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Chance Peni, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Ben Daley.
Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Richard Hardwick, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Curtis Rona.
Kings – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Lionel Cronjé (c), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Andisa Ntsila, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Justin Forwood, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Tyler Paul, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 23 Masixole Banda/Wandile Mjekevu.
Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images