Match report: Force edge out Lions
February 29, 2008
Western Force notched a narrow 18-16 victory over the Lions in their Super 14 clash at Ellis Park in Johanesburg.
Lions flyhalf Louis Strydom gave the hosts an early lead with a penalty when Matt Hodgson was penalised at a ruck but there lead was short lived.
Following a quick tap on halfway, Scott Daruda sent a long pass to Ryan Cross who then drew the defence before sending Cameron Shepherd away for an easy score.
Matt Giteau added the extras but the Lions closed the gap to a point when Strydom slotted his second penalty on the quarter hour.
The tit-for-tat scoring continued just two minutes later when Giteau penalised some indiscipline from the home defence by slotting over a penalty from close range.
The visitors turned the screw when the ever-impressive Giteau broke a tackle inside the Lions' 22 before feeding No.8 Tamaiti Horua who dotted down in the corner - the Television Match Official confirming the score.
Giteau failed with the conversion attempt and the Lions were soon on the front foot again, forcing the mistake from the Force defence that allowed Strydom to close thegap once more with his third penalty.
The Lions continued to press and when a clearance from Daruda was charged down Doppies la Grange picked up the loose ball before feeding Jaco van Schalkwyk who showed a good turn of pace to score a try.
The conversion from Strydom gave the Lions a one point advantage which they held until the break.
The visitors dominated possession and territory in the second period, with Ryan Cross making big gains on more than one occasion, but were made to work hard by some resilient Lions defence.
A long range penalty from Cameron Shepherd just ten minutes after the break edged the Force into the lead once more and they had a chance to stretch their lead just past the hour but Gtieau was off-target with a penalty attempt.
Worn down by a high tackle count the Lions pressed desperately as the clock ran down but after driving deep into the Force's half a handling error enabled Shepherd to walk the ball into touch and bring an end to the game.
Western Force, who climbed to fourth with their latest victory, return home from their tour of South Africa with two wins to their name while the Lions will go back to the drawing board after their second successive loss.
Awaiting them next weekend are the Bulls while the Force will go into next weekend's clash with the Crusaders in Perth with renewed confidence.
Lions (16) 16
Western Force (15) 18
Lions: Louis Ludik, Dusty Noble, Jaco Pretorius, Doppies la Grange, Ryno Benjamin, Louis Strydom, Jano Vermaak, Willem Alberts, Franco van der Merwe, Cobus Grobbelaar (captain), Gerhard Mostert, Anton van Zyl, Ross Geldenhuys, Willie Wepener, Heinke van der Merwe.
Reserves: Gavin Williamson, Gert-Andries van der Merwe, Altenstadt Hulme, Joe van Niekerk, Chris Jonck, Earl Rose, Jaco van Schalkwyk.
Western Force: Cameron Shepherd, Nick Cummins, Ryan Cross, Scott Staniforth, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, James Stannard, Tamaiti Horua, Matt Hodgson, Scott Fava, Nathan Sharpe (captain), Tom Hockings, Troy Takiari, Luke Holmes, Gareth Hardy.
Reserves: Tai McIsaac, AJ Whalley, Sam Wykes, Richard Brown, David Pocock, Scott Daruda, Lachlan MacKay.