The Force smashed the Reds to claim a crucial 39-7 bonus point win in Perth.
The hosts had come off their bye last weekend but didn’t show any signs of having lost momentum. They have had a problem of not converting pressure into points in previous matches but didn’t have such hassles against the Reds.
The Reds now haven’t won in their last 19 games on the road and the faint play-off hopes they had before kick-off are now dead.
The visitors opted for the direct approach early on but once it failed to produce results they reverted to the looser style they have favoured throughout the season.
They played most of the rugby early on but out of nowhere midway through the first half the Force scored 10 points in a couple of minutes.
Matt Giteau slotted a penalty then followed that with a neat offload that set up 18-year-old James O’Connor for the first try of the match. The Force were exhibiting good patience in the build up while the Reds were repeatedly guilty of forcing the pass.
Drew Mitchell’s try summed up the first half as the previous phases set up an easy run-in for the fullback.
With a 17-0 lead at the break Giteau proceeded to win the territorial battle against his Wallaby team-mates Berrick Barnes and Quade Cooper.
The Reds continued to botch scoring chances and another missed opportunity from Digby Ioane was compounded by substitute Scott Higginbotham’s yellow card from the ensuing ruck. The flanker was leniently only sent to the sin bin as he punched Force scrumhalf Josh Valentine which should have received the straight red.
With the one man advantage the Force attacked the back of the lineout and substitute flanker Tamaiti Horua had little trouble jogging over, while centre Ryan Cross took advantage of a turnover to secure the bonus point try.
The Force face the Hurricanes at home next week and will need another victory if they are to remain in the play-off hunt.
By Grant Ball