Force beat Rebels 27-24 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force beat Rebels 27-24

Melissa Woods 17/06/2011 10:56:58 PM Comments (0)

The Western Force may have lost James O'Connor to Melbourne but they took the points over the Rebels in their Super Rugby clash.

Five-eighth Willie Ripia nailed a penalty in the 77th minute from 48 metres out to give the Force a thrilling and deserved 27-24 victory at AAMI Park.

O'Connor, who will on Saturday be officially unveiled as a Rebel, didn't play because of suspension, while the Force were also missing their skipper Nathan Sharpe with an ankle injury.

But the Perth side scrambled well in an error-ridden match which came down to the wire.

Neither team could cross the white stripe in the opening half, with the visitors taking a 9-6 lead to the sheds thanks to the boots of Force five-eighth James Stannard and Melbourne's Danny Cipriani.

The second half started much the same way with Stannard, and then Cipriani adding further penalties to their tally and the Rebels levelled at 12-12 in the 52nd minute.

While the home side dominated the early exchanges in the second half, they were unable to convert that pressure into tries.

But the Force had no such problem as they scored twice in two minutes.

The first came in the 60th minute thanks to David Smith.

The winger touched down after his opposite Richard Kingi rushed out of the line to try to grab an intercept and Smith got outside him.

Two minutes later Stannard beat Rebels winger Cooper Vuna to give the Force some breathing room with a 22-12 lead.

The Rebels, buoyed on by their vocal home crowd, fought back and in the 68th minute reserve hooker Adam Freier burrowed over from a maul.

Skipper Stirling Mortlock then scored a contentious try to level at 24-24 when he pounced on a ball from Force hooker Ben Whitaker that looked like it had been earlier knocked on by Vuna.

With Cipriani off with a leg injury, Mortlock had the chance to win the match for his team but the conversion fell short.

But Ripia made no mistake with his shot three minutes later.

The Perth side were out to avenge an earlier loss to the Rebels but Melbourne, despite finishing last in the competition, had plenty to play for.

They were out to cap a memorable week after snaring the signature of Wallabies wonderkid O'Connor.

They also wanted a win to farewell some of their retiring veterans including legendary All Blacks' prop Greg Somerville as well as Sam Cordingley and Kevin O'Neill.

But in a disappointing end to the season, their losing drought which dates back to round seven continued.

Force coach Richard Graham was a relieved man after his side's many narrow losses this year.

Although he believed the side shouldn't have been in that position and Vuna's knock-on should have been called.

"You've got two people within 10 metres, at this level that shouldn't happen," he said.

"We lacked a bit of composure at the start of the game and we were a bit flat but our character was evident and we stuck in there and scored two fantastic tries.

"Willie's goal was reward for our efforts."

While the Melbourne camp were downcast at yet another loss, coach Rod Macqueen hailed their debut season a success.

"Three wins is not as good as we would have liked but if we're talking about our future ... I'm really proud of a lot of things this side has done on and off the field," said Macqueen, who will step aside as head coach next year.

"I can only see good things happening for this club."

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