The Western Force has been unable to overcome a star-studded NSW Waratahs line-up, going down 43-21 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Sunday afternoon.
The Force managed two tries through Nick Cummins and Kyle Godwin, with flyhalf Zack Holmes accounting for the remaining 11 points from the kicking tee.
In response, most of the damage from the NSW side came from fullback Israel Folau, who finished with three tries for the match.
Force Head Coach Michael Foley said he believed his side could bounce back for their first Asteron Life Super Rugby home match for 2014 against the Brumbies at the ‘Force Field’ (nib Stadium) on Saturday (1 March).
“The work that has been done over the last six months – and including the 14-week pre-season – you could see signs of today,” he said. “The big thing for us is that last year – and I’ve just said it to the players – we’d have come away from a performance like that looking to console ourselves a little bit, but we’re really disappointed because we expect more. I think in the next six days, the things we didn’t get right, we should be able to address, there’s no doubt about it.
“Guys like Hodgo, and any number of the boys out there today, fought to the death, and were still looking to score points although the game was gone. There’s plenty of character in the group and that’s a huge positive for us going forward.
“There are some things that you work through in pre-season, the trials and into your first game and they’re not going to work as well as they will in the next few games. You’ve got to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, and recognise what the key issues were. When you look at 43 points and how the opposition scored those points, those are the things we really need to target.”
The Waratahs wasted no time in opening their account, when winger Alofa Alofa put Folau in for his first in the second minute.
Holmes and opposite number, Bernard Foley, traded penalties to elevate the score to 8-3, before NSW No.8 Wycliff Palu found space to put Folau over for his second after 23 minutes.
Winger Nick Cummins capitalised on a sustained build-up of pressure inside the Waratahs quarter by crashing over for his side’s first try of the year, to draw the Force closer at 15-11.
However, the home side completed the half with an Alofa try, when the Waratahs winger charged onto a Foley penalty attempt that struck the uprights on the stroke of half-time for a 22-11 lead.
The visitors had a strong start to the second term, establishing themselves inside their attacking half for the opening 15 minutes, with a dominant scrum and ensuing defence providing another three points through Holmes.
While the home side responded through a Kane Douglas try, it was Cummins who helped orchestrate the final Force five-pointer when he intercepted and toed through a stray Tahs pass. Fullback Luke Morahan regathered the bouncing ball to link with Cummins, who, in turn, put Godwin away under the posts to draw back to 29-21.
However, the New South Welshmen finished off the match with tries to Kurtley Beale and Folau’s third, to seal the 22-point win.