The Force made a strong pre-season statement with a 28-0 win over the Hurricanes in Gosford on Wednesday.
The result should be seen in context, though, considering Force coach Michael Foley named close to a full-strength side for the encounter in Gosford, while last year’s Super Rugby runners-up, the Hurricanes, fielded a largely experimental side.
Nine players pulled on the Hurricanes jersey for the first time, with coach Chris Boyd having to make do without six World Cup All Blacks as he took the opportunity to test out some new combinations.
Nevertheless, they will be disappointed to have been held scoreless, with the Force producing a powerful defensive performance. The result was also impressive considering the Force had to play some six minutes in the second half with 13 players when both Steve Mafi and Kane Koteka were in the sin bin.
Lock Adam Coleman scored the only try of the first half, while fellow second rower Mafi, new recruit Semisi Masirewa and centre Ammon Matuauto scored in the second stanza to complete a solid outing.
The Force will kick off their Super Rugby campaign against the Melbourne Rebels on 27 February, while the Canes open their season against the Brumbies the day before.
Force – Tries: Adam Coleman, Steve Mafi, Semisi Masirewa, Ammon Matuauto. Conversions: Peter Grant, Jono Lance (3).
Force – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Albert Nikoro, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Angus Cottrell, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Guy Millar, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan (c).
Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Rory Walton, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Richard Hardwick, 22 Kane Koteka, 23 Ryan Louwrens, 24 Jono Lance, 25 Onehunga Havili, 26 Ammon Matuauto, 27 Semisi Masirewa, 28 Maalonga Konelio.
Hurricanes – 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Pita Ahki, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Otere Black, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Tony Lamborn, 6 Brad Shields (c), 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Reg Goodes.
Subs: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Loni Uhila, 18 Ben May, 19 Hisa Sasagi, 20 Chris Eves, 21 Michael Fatialofa, 22 James Blackwell, 23 Callum Gibbins, 24 Frae Wilson, 25 Malo Tuitama, 26 Peter Umaga-Jensen.
Photo: David Berrie/Force