Force crush Waratahs but miss out on vital bonus point

Justin Chadwick |

Reed Prinsep scores a try for the Western Force during their 27-7 win over the Waratahs.
Reed Prinsep scores a try for the Western Force during their 27-7 win over the Waratahs.

The Western Force have all but ended the NSW Waratahs’ finals hopes and heaped more pressure on under-fire coach Darren Coleman with a 27-7 victory at HBF Park.

The injury-hit Waratahs led 7-0 early in Saturday night’s Super Rugby Pacific match in Perth, but the Force piled on 27 unanswered points to snare back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

The hosts thought they had secured a bonus point with a final-minute try, but replays showed Bayley Kuenzle had lost control of the ball while being tackled by three opponents in the corner. 

Fijian Drua’s 28-19 win over the Queensland Reds earlier in the day meant the Force started the match six points adrift of eighth spot.

They are now just two points behind the Drua with games against the Reds (away) and ACT Brumbies (home) to come.

The last-placed Waratahs are nine points adrift of eighth.

It means they will need bonus-point wins against Moana Pasifika and the Reds – plus a host of other results to go their way – if they are to sneak into the finals.

Tane Edmed.
Tane Edmed is left looking for answers after the Waratahs’ loss in the west. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

Coleman will have to wait until the end of the season to find out his coaching fate, but with just two wins to his name in 2024, he faces an uphill battle to keep his post.

“It’s disappointing. It’s obviously pretty raw. We came here with a lot higher hopes,” Coleman said.

“We felt there were enough good patches in our football last week against the Brumbies to put out a much more creditable performance than what we did.

“We didn’t move well in the first half at all. That hurt us.

“Second half I thought our effort was better. But you just can’t win games of football with that many errors. I take full responsibility.

“It’s my job to get them up and moving faster and better and more motivated.

“And same with that attack execution. That’s something I’ve got to get the boys doing better in that aspect.

“I guess that rules out playoffs for us now. It’s tough.”

The Waratahs, celebrating the 100-game milestone of skipper Jake Gordon, scored the opening try of the match via fullback Mark Nawaqanitawase in the seventh minute.

But the rest of the half belonged to the Force as they piled on 20 unanswered points to take a 20-7 lead into the break.

Their first try came via a sweet backline move, with Hamish Stewart, Ben Donaldson and Kurtley Beale all dishing off quick passes on the charge to set up Kuenzle.

Donaldson scored the Force’s second try in the 20th minute following a line-busting run from flanker Will Harris. 

The Tahs’ hopes were all but killed off in the 66th minute when Brad Amituanai was yellow carded, with Force No.8 Reed Prinsep crossing three minutes later.

The bonus point was within touching distance, but the Force couldn’t get the try they needed despite coming close on numerous occasions.

“There might be a hole in the wall upstairs,” Force coach Simon Cron joked when asked about missing out on the bonus point.

“What I did like is the players kept fighting, looking for that bonus point at the end.

“Obviously gutted and disappointed we didn’t get it, but we’ll take a lot of learnings from that.

“That’s a really tight bunch of boys out there on that field, and that’s what most impresses me.”

AAP