Force keep final dream alive with thrilling win
The Force have made an impressive late run for a spot in the Super Rugby AU final.
Feleti Kaitu’u of the Force runs the ball during their match against the Waratahs. Picture: Getty Images
A late penalty from Domingo Miotti ensured the Western Force remained in the hunt for Super Rugby AU finals after a dramatic 31-30 victory over NSW Waratahs on Saturday.
In a virtual must-win contest in Perth for the hosts, the Force clinched a remarkable win when Miotti nailed the penalty kick at the death before being mobbed by teammates.
The Force have made an impressive late run for a finals spot after a pulsating 16-15 road win over Melbourne Rebels last week.
The thrilling victories mean the Force have jumped past the Rebels midway through the penultimate round before the finals.
The Rebels host second-placed ACT Brumbies on Sunday to complete round nine.
“I knew he had it, he’s a very confident man. I was never in doubt,” Force captain Kyle Godwin said of Miotti’s close-range conversion.
The winless Waratahs’ miserable season continued with their seventh straight defeat.
“For large parts of the game we controlled it. It’s been a tough year for us,” Waratahs captain Jake Gordon said.
The Force vowed to play with a finals mentality and came out aggressive in a contrast to their preferred dour style.
Tom Robertson gave them a perfect start with a try in the fourth minute after a lineout.
But the Waratahs, who have shown more fight since the recent sacking of coach Rob Penney, hit back shortly after with a try from Will Harrison.
The improved Force, who were winless last season, regained the lead almost immediately through the brilliance of Feleti Kaitu’u, who stripped teammate Santiago Medrano and raced away for a spectacular try.
The Waratahs struggled to stem the tide and were fortunate to only be down eight points at half-time.
But the visitors came out of the long break with confidence rarely seen this season marked by superb inter-passing resulting in a try to Jack Maddocks.
They then hit the front in the 48th minute when Alex Newsome crossed over in the right corner to silence the crowd.
A penalty kick from Miotti cut the deficit to three points but the Force’s lack of offensive flair proved costly as they struggled to make inroads.
With their finals dream slipping away, the Force buckled under the pressure and conceded two obstruction penalties to trail by nine points.
But Jordan Olowofela breathed life into the contest with a try in the 73rd minute before Miotti’s late heroics.
The Force host league-leading Queensland Reds next week, while the Waratahs aim to finish their season positively against the Rebels in Sydney in a game with major finals ramifications.