Super Rugby round nine
Invaders fail to halt upset Force win
April 14, 2013
Security at nib Stadium removes one of five pitch invaders during the Force's home match against the Crusaders © Getty Images
Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty managed to tackle one pitch invader to the ground, but another 15 spectators were planning to storm the field during Western Force's 16-14 victory at Perth's nib Stadium on Saturday night.
Five men were taken into custody after entering the field of play during the pulsating clash.
One man sprinted across the field in the 75th minute while the Force were on the attack, and a minute later another three men followed suit as the Crusaders were making their way out of defence.
Referee Jonathan Kaplan was forced to stop play as the spectators neared the players, and Crotty proceeded to sling one offender to the ground. A Crusaders' medical officer brought down a separate offender.
It's understood the men were part of a larger group who were planning to invade the field, although they didn't all go through with the plan after security was beefed up and extra police arrived at the ground. The perpetrators appeared to be Crusaders fans. The five men are facing bans from the venue of between one to five years, while they could also be charged with trespassing.
Perth has played host to some memorable pitch invasions over the years. In 1982, Australian cricketer Terry Alderman dislocated his shoulder after tackling a spectator to the ground at the WACA. And at the same venue in 2010, Pakistan cricketer Khalid Latif was tackled from behind by a spectator who had breached security.
The latest incident overshadowed a heroic performance from the Force, who held off wave after wave of Crusaders attacks to post one of their finest ever wins.
Former Wallaby Sam Norton-Knight scored a try and gave the team great direction from flyhalf, while fullback Jayden Hayward's accurate goalkicking kept the Crusaders at bay.
Winger Ed Stubbs unleashed some critical try-saving tackles during the height of the Crusaders' onslaught in the second half, while No.8 Richard Brown was at his bullocking best throughout the match.
The win lifted the Force (2-6) above the Rebels in the Australian conference, while the Crusaders (3-4) face a battle to make the finals after their slow start to the year.
Force lock Sam Wykes (groin) is in doubt for next Friday's clash with the Hurricanes in New Zealand, while prop Pek Cowan (shoulder) and flanker Ben McCalman (head) will also need to be further assessed.
Force coach Michael Foley said he was proud of the progress his team had made this season, especially in wins over Queensland and the Crusaders.
But after watching his team lose twice to the Rebels this season and once to the Kings, Foley said more consistency was needed.
"We're a side that's been together for a very short amount of time - six months," Foley said. "We've hit some heights in that time but we haven't become consistent. That's certainly what we're endeavouring to do."