The Western Force has recorded its fourth straight victory at the ‘Force Field’ (nib Stadium) following its 15-9 win over the Bulls tonight.
In wet conditions, field position was highly sought after with both sides determined to play the match down their respective attacking ends, despite neither side being able to cross the line in the rain-soaked match.
Force flyhalf Sias Ebersohn controlled the match for the home side, with his contestable kicking and ability to drive the ball downfield, proving just as valuable as his perfect goal-kicking display. Ebersohn, who kicked five penalties from as many attempts, was acknowledged for this composed performance in receiving the Haigh & Hastings Man of the Match.
Flankers Angus Cottrell and captain Matt Hodgson were again tireless in their performances, continually cutting down and charging through the big Bulls pack in their side’s sixth win of the season.
Head Coach Michael Foley said the ability to combat the Bulls’ kicking and famed forward play were critical in his side’s win.
“I thought the players were outstanding tonight,” he said. “They’re very tricky conditions against any team but particularly against the Bulls. Those conditions suit their way of playing a lot and we had to show a lot of patience and discipline to get the result.
“The second 20 minutes of the game when we were down 6-0, to build ourselves back into the game and get back to 9-6 at half-time was a real credit to the guys.
“In those conditions, the team that mauls best and kicks and handles best wins those games. The Bulls’ maul is an outstanding weapon for them and they got one running the whole game, the rest we defended very well, and over the course of the game we won some of those kicking battles.
“It was very slippery tonight and there were a number of little opportunities we had with the ball but didn’t quite capitalise on but the guys just stuck at their work and, most importantly, played for each other and got the result out of sheer guts.”
On the back of an aggressive forward pack and early aerial bombardment, the Bulls ensured they had the early running in the match, with flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter converting the pressure into points two early penalty goals.
Having weathered the initial storm, the Force began to work their way into the match with Ebersohn providing his side with a 9-6 half-time advantage following three penalty goals in the final 14 minutes of the half.
Ebersohn added another four minutes into the new term, before the Force launched their most promising try-scoring raid of the match midway through the half, but was forced to settle for another Ebersohn penalty and a 15-6 lead.
While Bulls replacement Handré Pollard pulled back the margin with another penalty goal 17 minutes from full-time, the Force repelled a late onslaught from the Pretoria-based side to seal the six-point win.
The Force will have a week to recover courtesy of the bye before heading to South Africa to tackle the Cheetahs (Saturday, 10 May) and Stormers (Saturday, 17 May).
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