Super Rugby Round 17 - Force v Waratahs
Waratahs maintain faint finals hopes
June 9, 2013
Date/Time: Jun 9, 2013, 14:05 local, 06:05 GMT
Venue: Perth Oval
Force 13 - 28 New South Wales Waratahs
Half-time: 8 - 22
Tries: Cowan, Godwin
Pens: Hayward
Tries: Atkins, Crawford, Kingston
Cons: McKibbin 2
Pens: Foley, McKibbin 2
The Waratahs' Bernard Foley beats the tackle of the Force's Pek Cowan, Western Force v New South Wales Waratahs, Super Rugby, nib Stadium, Perth, June 9, 2013
Bernard Foley had another fine game for the Waratahs
© Getty Images

A second-string New South Wales Waratahs kept alive their finals hopes with an upset 28-13 triumph over Western Force to conclude Super Rugby round 17 at nib Stadium in Perth on Sunday. The Waratahs started with 10 players on Wallabies duties and a further seven injured, but they scored three tries in the opening 25 minutes before displaying a fierce defensive effort for the remainder of the match to secure the vital win.

NSW almost secured the four-try bonus point after the final siren, but winger Peter Betham was ruled to have knocked on in his desperate lunge for the tryline. The triumph moved NSW into seventh spot on the table, just two points adrift of the sixth-placed Crusaders and fifth-placed Cheetahs. But even if they win their remaining game against Queensland Reds on July 13, they must rely on a host of other results to go their way in order to snare a wildcard play-off berth: they need they need the Crusaders to lose the three matches they still have to play, and hope the Blues, Hurricanes, Sharks and Stormers don't enjoy winning runs to close out the regular season. The Force, meanwhile, will finish last in the Australian conference unless they can muster a bonus-point win over the Brumbies in their final match of the season.

"It's a great win for the province and hopefully we've made our supporters proud on a day where they were probably the only ones backing us," proud Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said. "We've talked a lot all year about hard work, honesty, physicality ... and today the players who came in did exactly that. Nothing special, [but] hard work, hunger and honesty got them the reward."

Western Force coach Michael Foley was disappointed with with his players, but he denied his team had been complacent after playing the British & Irish Lions in Perth on Wednesday night. "I put pressure on the team potentially by the way selections went this week, and I'd say that would be the only thing that affected the mindset: that we had some disappointed guys who didn't play the midweek game. Complacency is never an issue. We work hard. We trained well. We just didn't complete out there. We had some good shape to our game, we created some opportunities, we just didn't finish."

Foley, however, did say "you've got to be hungry".

"They were pretty desperate today," Foley said of the Waratahs. "They were looking to prove a point. They haven't been selected for them, and we just gave them too many soft chances to get out of there. Not converting wasn't good for us. When you turn the ball over as much as we did in their 22, you don't capitalise on the good work."

The Waratahs were too good for Western Force (video available only in Australia)

Force forward Hugh McMeniman, making his first appearance in nine weeks, suffered a major scare in the 28th minute when he was left limping after a tackle. But he ploughed on to see out the match, keeping alive his chances of making the Wallabies squad for the series against the British & Irish Lions. Foley said McMeniman deserved to be named when Wallabies coach Robbie Deans added a further six players to his squad on Tuesday. "The fact he took that knock and played on is a good sign," Foley said of McMeniman, "Hugh can play a lot better than that, but I think he will as he keeps playing."

Waratahs debutant Ollie Atkins was the first to score when he picked the ball up from the back of a ruck and barged over in the sixth minute. The Waratahs scored again four minutes later, when they unleashed a series of slick passes after a lineout to send winger Cam Crawford over in the corner. Force prop Pek Cowan pegged a try back for the home side in the 22nd minute, after an initial thrust from McMeniman, but the Waratahs replied three minutes later through centre Tom Kingston.

NSW led 22-8 at half-time, but the Force had their chance to fight back when Waratahs No.8 Jed Holloway was sin-binned in the 56th minute. Kyle Godwin scored a running try after an initial break from Sias Ebersohn to close the gap to nine points, but the Force's propensity to give away silly penalties came back to haunt them as the Waratahs iced the win in front of a crowd of 10,194 spectators.


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