The Waratahs came out on top 14-10 in a battle of attrition against the Force in Perth.
The Force camped on the Waratahs’ line and in their 22m for the majority of the final ten minutes, but inept finishing, ill-discipline and timely defence meant this was ultimately unrewarded. Watching the final 10 minutes one could be excused for thinking that the encounter was entertaining.
Both the Waratahs and Force appeared to be playing without a game plan – on numerous occasions both sides ended good phases through accidental offsides. This epitomised the game, with intermittent periods of momentum ruined by turnovers and poor discipline.
The game began with a three point exchange between Berrick Barnes and James O’Connor, leveling at three-all after 10 minutes. This was the highlight of both player’s goal kicking display, each missing relatively simple kicks.
An irrepressible Drew Mitchell, often made his presence felt at the kick-off and chipping in at the breakdown throughout the game, split the sides when he latched on to a Daniel Halangahu grubber and slid in at the corner. Barnes, however, pushed the conversion wide.
Force wing Scott Staniforth accepted gave the home side a ray of hope, ghosting into the Waratahs’ backline and stealing an intercept try from the Sydney franchise. O’Connor converted and the Force went into the second half 10-8 ahead, marking the first time in 2010 that the Western Australians have led at the break.
It was more of the same in the second 40 minutes. The Force crossed the line more than once, but failed to score throughout the half. The only action of the half came from the boot of Halangahu, who struck two penalties from in front, replacing an out-of-sorts Barnes.
John Mitchell’s men were without direction, and their running lines inept. The Waratahs were comparable – their backline all too often attacking from standing starts. Both sides were laboured and their play held little semblance of continuity.
O’Connor was again the highlight of the Force’s 80 minutes; his play with the ball in hand encouraging, and his tactical kicking influential. He often drifted into the back three in broken play, begging the question as to the length and merit of his stay at inside centre.
The Perth crowd ended the game with a chorus of boos, probably aimed at their inept side who have now lost five on the bounce.