Force shock Tahs in Sydney sun - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Force shock Tahs in Sydney sun

Force shock Tahs in Sydney sun

The Western Force upset the defending champions at home, winning 25-15 in a scrappy first round display.

Images courtesy of Keith McInnes photography

The Match

It was a typical round 1 affair, with plenty of stoppages and pretty poor handling. But it was the Force who came away with the chocolates, humiliating the Tahs on their home turf for the first time since 2013. They dominated in the forward pack and swarmed all over the Waratahs backs, and showed plenty of good signs for the coming season.

The Waratahs looked short of a run, and their big players didn’t stand up under pressure. They looked sluggish, and while their set piece was strong they lacked the speed and accuracy that defined their 2014 campaign.

The first half was a stop-start affair, typified by Waratah dropped ball, botched Force lineouts and collapsed scrums. The Force drew first blood with a penalty to Sias Ebersohn, to which the Tahs quickly hit back with three points of their own to Bernard Foley. Unfortunately the game had to be delayed at that point after an unfortunate neck injury to Pek Cowan.

Despite the Tahs gradually getting on top, the Force hung in there and after a Benn Robinson try was disallowed they broke away downfield. Nearing the line they were thwarted by an offside Wycliff Palu, who was given ten minutes in the bin for his troubles. The Force scored from the ensuing penalty, with Chris Alcock dotting down after a brilliant driving maul from the visitors.


Despite being a man down the Waratahs dominated the final eight minutes of the half, but were let down by poor handling. Centres Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper were having shockers, and it was sapping the life out of the Tah backline. The halftime score was 8-3 to the visitors, with the game well in the balance.

The Force started the second half on the front foot, and only took six minutes to register their second try, with Angus Cottrell crashing through some weak Waratah defence from close range. Ebersohn added the extras and the Force led 15-3. With the game slipping away the Waratahs worked their way back into the match, helped by a newly found scrum dominance. Alby Mathewson was given a yellow card for a cynical ruck offence on the Force line, and Rob Horne scored in the corner after a clever Nick Phipps quick tap.

This proved to be a false dawn for Waratahs supporters, with the home side continuing to make basic errors. The Force kept coming, and were rewarded with a try on the counter-attack to Luke Morahan, after some scrappy work at the back from NSW. The Force had the game in their hands, and were playing like they had five extra men on the field. They swarmed on last year’s champions and soon had a bonus point try to reserve prop Francois van Wyk, who intercepted a desperate Kurtley Beale chip.Cottrell

The Tahs salvaged some pride late with a try to Rob Horne from a backline set-play from a lineout, but the game was gone. The Force were too good, too strong and won 25-15.

It was a classic Force display, led by a cohesive forward unit. Ben McCalman was a standout, along with Angus Cottrell, Nathan Charles and Chris Alcock. For the Waratahs I was impressed with Sekope Kepu, Will Skelton and Israel Folau. The other 12 blokes were, putting it bluntly, rubbish. But as we all know championships aren’t won in round 1, but this match shows the competitiveness of the Australian conference this year. If you don’t bring your A game you’ll be out on your arse.

The Game Changer

It was early in the game, but I thought Benn Robinson’s disallowed try was a turning point. Had he held onto the ball the Tahs would probably have scored in the ensuing phase, but he reached out was rightly penalised. The Force scored quickly from the penalty, with Cliff Palu also ending up in the sin bin. 14 point turnaround, and then some.


The most impressive Force player for mine was Ben McCalman. The big dog was at his very best, bullocking over Waratahs and making big hits. Showed up the experienced Waratahs pack. Nathan Charles was also impressive, along with Junior Rasolea.

Wallaby watch

Plenty of Wallabies in Waratah blue, but only Sekope Kepu, Will Skelton and Israel Folau had games to be proud of. Angus Cottrell had another great match for the Force, proving he will be pulling on Wallaby gold sooner rather than later.

The Details

Crowd: 20,271

Score & Scorers

Waratahs 15
Tries: Horne 2
Conversions: Foley
Penalties: Foley
Force 25
Tries: Alcock, Cottrell, Morahan, van Wyk
Conversions: Ebersohn
Penalties: Ebersohn

Cards & citings

YC: Palu, Mathewson

  • Marcus Pontmercy

    Wow who would have thought! And away as well.
    Hooper looked bullied in the breakdown

    • AndrewWA

      If bullied = ineffective then I agree with you.Wallaby back row given a bath by back row with 1 Wallaby.

      • Aussie D

        … and he is only a fill in Wallaby at best to cover if there are injuries! Well done to the Force in winning the first game of the season for the first time in their history. I wouldn’t want to be the ‘tahs at training this week as Cheika / Grey will be hammering them!

  • Slim 293

    Final score was actually 13 – 25……. Foley missed the drop conversion.

  • Robert Muldoon

    Huzzah! Combined with the Rebels win, this goes someway to dulling the pain from the crap the reds served up.

  • skip

    So Australia’s newer franchises are just making up the numbers, right?

    • Marcus Pontmercy

      Wheres burke?

      • RobC

        celebrating with the Rebels

    • Gilbert

      Thats what the Tahs would think..

  • John’s No.1 Fan

    Would be such a service to rugby if there’s a clever video editor out there to quickly get up highlights to GAGR.

    GAGR would probably get a bit of international exposure too, because everyone want s good highlights!

    Could always do some trickery to get around copyright.. like get a high quality camera and tape the tv/computer screen :)

    It’s 2015 and it’s time we (the devout rugby community) get our shit together and circumvent the fox monopoly.

    Spread the word among junior video editors who could do a season as an ‘internship’ – how good would that look on the resume!

    • Gilbert

      Yea put the highlights of Beale chip kicking a try for the Force.

      • Dally M

        It was the right decision with the Force fullback defendng really deep & no sweeper, but piss poor execution like much of what Beale dished up that game.

        • bad ass

          Bull dust. He regularly chip kicks in desperation when he can’t find a way through. It’s catch up football, and I can’t remember a time when it has worked for him.

        • Dally M

          You must have a pretty short memory then because it has worked plenty of times for him in the past. It has also failed a number of times too. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right decision on the weekend.

          If it went over the Force player it was 1 on 1 provided he regathered cleanly. The fullback was 25-30 metres back.

        • bad ass


          Chip kicking out of your own 22 is a joke. I actually am laughing at the concept of it. It crashes me back to reality when I realise he is likely to be in the wallaby back line with the Wallabies coach and Waratahs coach being so close in communication with each other.

  • Ryphon

    Great way to open the account with an away win to the Force. Hope Pek getting stretched off was merely a precaution. Also need to work on place kicks. Way too many misses.

    • RobC

      Just saw it. It was a really low powerful and dangerous scrum. Havent seen an incident like that for a while.

    • Will

      Pek is reportedly just fine. Cleared of all serious injury. It certainly looked bad but I’m glad they take precautions

  • jamie

    foley and Beale were rubbish. The forwards weren’t giving em much but uh yeah. Beale isn’t actually wallaby 23 material… And foley at his best is probably only a bench player.

    • SteveAtThePub

      They’ll get Wallaby jerseys no matter…

  • SteveAtThePub

    The turning point was a disallowed try in a 13 point loss? Riiight?

    Pass the popcorn. This season is going to be awesome viewing

    • Nick

      If you bothered to read the article the turning point was the disallowed try as it immediately led to 7 points for the Force and a Tah in the bin. 14 point turn-around. 14>13. Kthxbye

      • SteveAtThePub

        Pint of bitter anyone?

        • Nick

          Bitter? No. I’m merely pointing out your error.

  • Pedro

    I thought the penalty when Benn Robbo went for the line was for the support players flopping (going straight to ground). It’s academic though I suppose.

    Good intensity from the Force. The tahs will bounce back but they didn’t show up today.

  • Nutta

    Agreed with Pedro – great intensity by the Forcies and doing so without Hodgey. Full balls to them. Great win. That being said if the Tarts held just half the balls they dropped/threw away it would have been a different story. But what-if’s don’t win games so here’s to the Forcies and gotta say I’m happy not to be going to Tarts training this week. Me-thinks they are in for a belting from a demure and reserved Mr Cheks. I dare say he will wrap those little gift golf-clubs fair around their arses after that display…

  • Gun

    Beale is a myth with a bad attitude. His entitled years from youth have got the better of him. Runs sideways, can’t tackle, can’t catch a high ball. Not a wallaby. I said it when he delivered his ultimatum to Link about being 5/8 or he’d go to league.

    • Masher

      The Wallabies, Reds and Waratahs are the only teams who think he’s worth anything. The sooner he steps out of line again – and you know the little twat will – the sooner he can bugger off for good. he will never be missed

      • HK Red

        The Reds think he’s worth something?!? Christ I hope not, two amigos is enough of an experiment. Though QC is a totally changed man and Brand seems to be making all the right noises. Time will tell.
        I agree, was appalling that the Tahs and the ARU gave that pillock what he wanted. To say he wanted the “5/8th spot and to be starting for the Wallabies, otherwise what’s the point, I’ll go to league” – that should have been the moment his potential contract renewal was filed in the bin.

  • Gilbert

    Fuck you realise what a dipstick Kurtley Beale is … he cant tackle cant kick and gifted the Force a try… send him to Zimbabwe

    • tah fan

      So he turns into a david pocock?

  • PiratesRugby

    And all of us Rebels fans can now say – SUCK THAT MATT BURKE!

    So Hooper too small, Skelton can’t secure the ball, Phipps passes like rubbish, Foley ineffectual, Beale a danger to himself and his team mates, Folau overrated and ACC (sadly) past it. Tell us something we didn’t know already.

    Good on Rob Horne though. I know he’s the slowest winger in any rugby comp in the world but he’s a nice bloke who give 110%. The haircut was a good move too.

    • Mingo

      Cool man. I’m looking forward to the rebels finishing above 12th. Hopefully then they will start developing their own players and offering something to Australian Rugby.

      • jamie

        Any idea how many players were born or schooled in Melbourne? Toomua and Lelo are good examples…

        • Nick

          Let me know when you get above 5.

        • PiratesRugby

          Ewen McKenzie, Ben Tapuai, Rocky Elsom, Nick Stiles, Lloyd Johanssen, John Ulugia, David Fitter…

        • Tibor

          Born in Victoria means nothing if they played all of their junior footy in NSW & QLD ala most of those named.

        • Brendan Hume


      • PiratesRugby

        Thanks to NSW for everything they gave Australian rugby last year. Saved their favourite son at the expense of the national coach. Provided the new coach but would not release him from his provincial duties.

        Frankly, I don’t care that the Rebels two games in any year, as they can both be against the Tahs.

        • Dally M

          A Super Rugby title, a team that played attractive running rugby, a national coach who won’t walk out on the team when the going get’s tough….yeah thanks NSW!

  • Ted

    Cheika gave an inspirational half time speech apparently, reminding them all that he is still the sole selector for the national side and not to change any hair appointments for the follow week..

  • AB

    At the game – a couple of observations – phipps passing was all over the place, tahs scrum was very strong, Foley looks to have added a little more distance to his general kicks in open play and penalty touch finders, KB had a shocker, Ashley Cooper found new ways not to pass (terrible grubbers), and it was bloody hot!!! Felt sorry for Captain Sykes who threw up on a few occasions during the game…

  • Hugh Cavill

    Some classic GAGR peanuts lining up to have a crack at the Tahs. Fancy judging a bloke on how he goes in round 1 after two months off!

    They were definitely short of a run, but the foundations of the game were solid. Long way to go in the year, they will be there when the comp hits the business end.

    • Marcus Pontmercy

      I think the hate is mainly on Burke’s coments nothing else… Ok maybe beale too

    • al

      Force seemed to be pretty spot on and not ‘short of a run’

      • Dally M

        Didn’t most of the Force and the Rebels play together in the NRC?

        • will

          Only for the home games. Away games were a completely different team without the big names. Except for finals.

          No real excuse. The Force just played better as a team in the day. It’s not a big deal. Only one game.

        • Dally M

          Definitely. No excuses for Tahs.

          Just saying, the Force & Rebels would have benefited from the continuity the NRC provided to them as one team States while the other teams had a lot of their players split up.

    • PiratesRugby

      The time off didn’t hurt the Brumbies? Moore and Pocock coming back from ACL tears.
      Higginbotham and McMahon had good games and they were with most of the Waratah players in Wallaby camp.
      Matt Burke mouthed off about the Rebels and he deserves to be pulled up on it.

    • Gilbert

      Thats an excuse

  • brumby runner

    Agree that McCalman was MOTM. Generally outplayed Cliff in all aspects. Tackled harder, ran harder and went hard for the whole 80 minutes.

    Alby was next best I thought and he also outplayed his opposite.

    Cottrell continues to show strong form. Think he could be Wallabies’ reserve No 6 later this year over a couple of Nottas playing there in other provinces.

    Did Sam Wykes suffer a head knock early in the match? Only explanation I could see for his dropped balls, in both lineout and in general play.

    Thought Rob Horne was the only Tahs’ Wallaby who didn’t do his representative chances any harm in this game, although I was also very pleasantly surprised by Big Will’s scrummaging.

  • Hack Ref

    I felt compassion for the red men out their after Saturday. Us Tahs have had a dose of humility best served with a real Force!
    Props to the Force you came to play and did it well. Perhaps next time the Tahs will turn up. In passing Big Willie came with some purpose in his running but needed to hang onto the pill.
    The most memorable thing was a Sunny Sunday afternoon game and 20,000 came to watch. Do you think the S15 will learn about afternoon games? Fox can always delay the telecast. It would help the fox crew get it right more times then they usually do. I hope so.

  • Moz

    I was going to comment, but I’ve never played Super Rugby……..

  • RobC

    Thanks Hugh. Was a bad night for kickers on both sides. Force dropped 13 points. Most were easy.

    The only thing worse that all that was Brache’s fubar’d try. Total of 20 points left on the table. Could have been a 33 point difference!

    On replay Brache’s miss looked even worse. What was he trying to do?

    • Brendan Hume

      It was grimace inducing. It looked like a league player trying to knock the ball dead. One of the most bizarre things I’ve seen. All he had to do was drop on it.

      • RobC

        Man. The more I watch the replay, the more Im convinced he’s demonstrating his allegiance to Cheika. Just can’t work it out…

    • Moz

      I don’t think he realised the ball was over the try line, and all he needed to do was force the ball down. So, I think he was trying to grab it, and then carry over the line…. Either way, god it looked bad. Taught my son a few new words watching that!

  • therawbucket

    I must have missed it, what comments did Burke make?

    • MM

      Not much. “Rebel players and supporters are soft and whingey and highly sensitive to criticism and any negative commentary”.

  • Bay35Pablo

    Really noticed when McKibbin came on. Suddenly crisp fast service from the back of the ruck. When that started happening realised maybe Phipps was an issue.

  • TheMountain

    Well that was a bit rubbish, ball handling was sloppy and work at the breakdown was slow and mistimed. Beale was completely pointless having kicked the ball at every unnecessary time until he’s standing in his own in-goal, at which point he runs with it…? The guy’s best rugby is far in the past and now he’s just trying stupid flashy plays that are beyond his skill set. Robinson, while a cult hero and invaluable personality is getting old, years of pie and chips have slowed him down and…oh shit, all we have to replace him is pine-arse Tilse. After all it’s just an opener hopefully they find their hands and feet and get back to it, no doubt Cheika is bellowing at them at this very moment…

  • Brendan Hume

    Godwin hasn’t got a lot of kudos – he was immense in defence. McCalman, inspired, Mathewson outstanding. Force absolutely suffocated the Tahs. Poor old Wykes looked bloody out of sorts though.
    Tahs will be back though, need to get their patterns back in order. JacPot was good, but they need a couple more forwards to pick up their running game. Handling was atrocious.

  • Arejay

    Force back row giving worratahs backrow a clinic. Pat mccutcheon to start next week me thinks.

  • HK Red

    I’m amazed that no-one (journos or pundits) has queried the decision to take the tap from a penalty right in front, with two minutes to go? That was a totally amateur move.
    Even if the Tahs eventually scored from the tap, after the conversion they would have struggled to get a restart. It was a gamble that might score a try, with a potentially tricky conversion and it would only ever get them a losing bonus point. Whereas, they could have just taken the penalty kick, secured the bonus point and licked their wounds.
    Unless you’re certain to win your conference, bonus points are absolutely key to progressing in Super Rugby and if you’re arrogant enough to think you don’t need them?? Well, let’s hope you get it right, because missing a finals berth from such a silly error would be a tough pill to swallow.

    • Utah

      I believe the TV coverage got the score wrong and the final score was actually 25-13, not 25-15. Apparently Foley missed the conversion of Horne’s last try but Foxtel awarded it. If this is right a penalty shot wouldn’t have secured them the bonus point, only a try would have.

      • HK Red

        Ahh okay. That makes much more sense. At the time I was looking at the screen, incredulous that they’d take the tap. Great, thanks for the explanation.

        • Utah

          So was I! I couldn’t believe the (apparent) stupidity!

  • Cramps

    Too much hate going on here.

    Fellas, we’re a code under fire in a World Cup year.

    As a Tahs supporter, this was a pretty disappointing match (although supporting a team with a dominant scrum was refreshing) but as a Wallaby fan this weekend has largely been good news.

    Very impressed with the Brumbies, Force and Rebs. Would be great to have Foley as forwards coach for the RWC.

    Nice to have a real impression of depth in the Aussie conference! Long may it last!

    • Nick

      The green eyed monster at work. You’d think the majority of GAGRs have had their girlfriends pinched by a NSWelshman the way they carry on in here. It’s sad really as I was hoping this year would be positive given it’s a WC year. Hopefully it’s just round 1 boasting and we can all unite for the good of AUS for the rest of the year!

  • Richard9

    Last week i mentioned players on old feet running around against the Chiefs. They were their again yesterday against a lesser club but have got worst in 7 days. We cant keep hanging onto Robinsons, Kepu’s, Paula’s, TPN, Beale’s , AAC in this side or the Wallaby team for that matter. They have won their title, they are thinking of the World Cup and the overseas clubs after that. The top of the mountain has been reached and nothing else matters to these guys. Get the the young blokes in like Holloway, Betham, Vola Vola, Latu and let them rip in a bit. And dont forget the Force bombed a try with would of been 7 pts and missed 12 points in other kicks. Bit of a flogging that score could of been. But you watch, Cranky Chieka will pick the same team again and the Rebels will be still unbeaten.

    • Dally M

      Still trying to get some traction with the cranky Cheika theme i see.

      The players were so scared of him they won the comp last year.

    • Nick

      Kepu and AAC are leaving after the Cup. They have earned the right to contest it this year (although I think Kepu needs to pull his socks up and get stuck in this year). I understand Palu and Robinson are getting on and Beale is a Jekyll and Hyde type but you want to lay into TPN? He’s younger than Moore and they are both coming off season ending injuries so by that logic we should do away with him too?

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