Honey badger hat-trick sinks Tahs

Nick Cummins scored three tries as the Force beat the Waratahs 28-16 in Perth.

The Force have now won five Super Rugby matches in a row for the first time in their short history.

Leading 6-3, thanks to two early penalties from Kurtley Beale, the Waratahs spent several minutes camped inside the home side's 22 but the Force scored the opening try against the run of play when Cummins intercepted Nick Phipps's pass close to the Force's tryline and sprinted the length of the field.

Sias Ebersohn's conversion gave the hosts a 10-6 lead but Bernard Foley narrowed the gap to a single point when he slotted the visitors' third penalty shortly afterwards.

The Waratahs did most of the attacking during the rest of the half but it was the Force who extended their lead, via another Ebersohn three-pointer, after Michael Hooper was penalised for a ruck infringement.

The Waratahs made the early attacking after the break and they thought they had regained the lead, in the 46th minute, when Cam Crawford got over the tryline after running on to an inside pass from Foley just outside the Force's 22. But the TMO ruled that Jono Lance, who was used as a dummy runner, had interfered with Alby Mathewson, who was trying to tackle Crawford.

Five minutes later, Cummins got over for his second try after brilliant work from Mathewson in the build-up. The former All Blacks scrumhalf slipped past Dave Dennis, close to the halfway line, before offloading to Cummins, who scored in the corner despite the attentions of Beale who made a desperate tackle as the Force flyer went over the the tryline.

With the Force now holding an 18-9 lead, the Waratahs launched several attacking forays inside their hosts' half. They were met by a fierce defensive effort from the Force with captain Matt Hodgson and fellow flanker Angus Cottrell leading the charge up front and Marcel Brache following their lead among the backs.

The defensive pressure paid dividends when Cummins pounced on a wayward pass from Beale inside the Force's 22 and set off towards the Waratahs' tryline. He still had work to do and despite being hauled in 5m from the tryline by Crawford, Cummins managed to wriggle free before diving over in the left-hand corner despite another challenge from Lance.

The Waratahs struck back, five minutes later, when Beale was in the clear down the left-hand touch and he burst through a tackle from Luke Morahan before scoring in the corner. Foley landed the conversion, from close to the touchline, but although the visitors tried desperately to add to their tally with another five-pointer they could not break down the Force's defence.

Ebersohn added another penalty, from in front of the posts, shortly before full-time.

Force – Tries: Nick Cummins (3). Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (2). Penalties: Ebersohn (3).
Waratahs – Try: Kurtley Beale. Conversion: Bernard Foley. Penalties: Beale (2), Foley.

Force – 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zach Holmes, 23 Chris Tuatara-Morrison.

Waratahs – 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Jono Lance, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Dave Dennis (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgeiter, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sepoke Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: 16 Silatolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Talalelei Gray, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Patrick McCutcheon, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Matt Carraro.

Photo: Paul Kane/Gallo Images

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Simon Borchardt