Force thump hapless Reds - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force thump hapless Reds

By Justin Chadwick 04/04/2009 07:29:00 AM Comments (0)

Western Force kept their Super 14 rugby finals hopes alive and effectively ended those of Queensland with a thumping 39-7 bonus-point triumph at Subiaco Oval on Friday night.

The Reds, whose inexperienced backline copped a hammering in last week's 50-26 loss to the Chiefs, were once again found wanting in defence as the Force ran in five tries to one in the comprehensive victory.

First-half tries to James O'Connor and Drew Mitchell gifted the Force a 17-0 half-time lead and any hope of a Reds comeback evaporated when substitute Scott Higginbotham was sent off for punching Force scrumhalf Josh Valentine in the 54th minute.

Tamaiti Horua crossed seven minutes later and the Force secured the bonus point when outside centre Ryan Cross touched down in the corner in the 72nd minute, with Blair Connor's late try merely saving some face for the Reds.

Force substitute Haig Sare capped the perfect night with a try after the final siren.

The win lifts the Force (17 points) to within five points of fourth spot, while the Reds (12 points) can start planning for next season following their 19th consecutive winless game on the road.

The Reds made a bright start but failed to convert their early dominance into points, Digby Ioane and Connor both committing knock-ons when clean hands would have yielded tries.

Force five-eighth Matt Giteau opened the scoring via a penalty in the 18th minute and three minutes later 18-year-old prodigy O'Connor capitalised on a missed tackle from Reds fullback Mark McLinden to notch the game's opening try.

The Reds struggled to contain the Force's explosive backline, with the double-playmaker combination of Giteau and O'Connor proving especially difficult to stop.

But winger Nick Cummins was also having a big influence on the match and his second barnstorming run of the night set up Mitchell for a try in the 31st minute, with Giteau's conversion extending the lead to 17-0.

Ioane, who left the Force in controversial circumstances at the end of 2007, almost notched a try for the Reds after the half-time siren but the explosive centre was held up over the line by the home side's dogged defence.

Giteau's second penalty extended the lead to 20 points shortly after half-time and the Reds were hanging on for dear life when Higginbotham, who had only been on the field for two minutes, was given his marching orders.

The lead ballooned to 27-0 when David Pocock released Horua into space and Cross sealed the bonus point when he touched down in the corner after a Reds turnover at the breakdown.

Reds winger Connor, who was twice denied a try by solid Cummins tackles, got the visitors on the board with a 73rd-minute but the 15,724 fans were on their feet again when Sare put the finishing touches on a sparkling performance.

To compound the Reds' woes, scrumhalf Ben Lucas suffered a reoccurrence of his rib injury while hooker Sean Hardman hurt his knee.

The Force will monitor the fitness of No.8 Richard Brown after he limped off in the second half.

"We were beaten in every facet and it's extremely disappointing," Reds coach Phil Mooney said.

"We didn't see that coming and it's disappointing and it's not good enough."

Force coach John Mitchell praised his charges for their work at the breakdown.

"I thought we scrummed really well tonight," Mitchell said.

"I think the building blocks were there all along but it's been an element of trying to finish really.

"There was a lot of pride shown tonight in the Western Force jumper and I guess that's really pleasing."

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