The Force beat the Jaguares in one of their most glorious games.
They arrived in Buenos Aires with only two victories in the competition this year, and with the pressure to fight to survive in the tournament.
Reading the newspapers, they seemed an easy rival for a team with many test players who had only lost one game at home this year.
Against all unfavourable predictions, more than 12,000 kilometers away from home, after travelling from Durban to play in front of fans who did not come to cheer them, and without some top players – the Force gave a clear message to the SANZAAR:
We are still alive and we want to continue in this competition!
The game started slowly but the Force demonstrated from the beginning that they would not be an easy rival for the Argentines. Fighting each ball as if it was the last time of their careers, the Force players managed to impose their presence without being intimidated by a team studded with test players.
That’s why the first big chance of the game would be for the Aussies. At 17 minutes, after a scrum in their favour, no. 8 Richard Hardwick nearly went over the top of defenders but he dropped the ball.
Richie Arnold – played with aggression
There had been nothing on the scoreboard at the half-hour mark, yet it was an intriguing battle all the same, but when lock Richie Arnold got carded for an early tackle it seemed the home team would pile on some points.
But instead there was a period of sterling defence by the visitors and the first points of the game would arrive just five minutes before the break when Los Jaguares did not release a tackled player.
The attempt at goal helped to run down the clock on the Arnold exclusion, and Prior had no problem succeeding.
Then the home team had one of their best passages of the match with some fine ensemble rugby. A kick and chase by Bautista Ezcurra broke the the solid Aussie defense, and fullback Joaquin Tuculet received the ball from flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon and ran to the line.
Juan Manuel Leguizamon – up in the air
When it looked like it would be the first try of the night, Peter Grant and Curtis Rona caught up with him and bundled him into touch.
The first half ended with a little brawl between players of both teams, which had started due to a strong tackle from Adam Coleman against Matías Alemanno; it was not taken well by the Argies.
Halftime score: Force 3 – Jaguares 0
Curtis Rona presents the ball
The second half started with many penalty kicks, converted and missed by both kickers. Juan Martin Hernandez missed a penalty kick (42 ‘) and converted another two (50′ and 64’)) while Ian Prior missed a penalty kick (51 ‘) and made the second one (61′).
At that point the match was tied up 6-6. It was not grand rugby but it was nevertheless dramatic..
The game was at its peak, the playing area was a real battlefield. The hearts throbbed with intensity and at every tackle, a fist fight between players was about to begin. Adam Coleman led his teammates, forcing them not to slow down against their opponents.
The Jaguares would feel all the strength of Western Force, as the slogan of the franchise says: “Feel the force”. Little by little the Force was subjecting its will on their rival.
These unknown players for most of the crowd in the stands were gaining metre by metre, pushing back international players, baffling the spectators who asked themselves, “Who are these guys?
“Why do they play with such intensity? How are they pushing our international players back who are superior to them according to rugby experts?”
Juan Martin Hernandez – consoled by the mascot
That is why after several phases of attack, Pek Cowan would grab the ball and pass it to the Fijian, Isi Naisarani, who would destroy the Jaguares defence and gain several meters. Ian Prior would pick the ball up and then pass it to Alex Newsome who made the first try of the night after 68 minutes of the game.
The people in the stands could not believe what they was seeing!
But that would not be all. In another furious attack, after several explosive phases, Lewis Carmichael would break the Jaguares defense again so that Bill Meakes picked the ball up from the ruck and passed it to Isi Naisarani who would be unstoppable for the Argentines and would make the second and last try of the night.
Ian Prior missed the last two conversions to decree the final result, 6-16 for the visitors and to end one of the most glorious nights in the history of the Perth franchise.
Final score: Force 16 – Jaguares 6.
Billy Meakes – Man of the match
Man of the match
Bill Meakes was chosen by the local media but without doubt was the effort of the whole team that played like never before.
Special mentions for some NRC players like Isi Naisarani, Alex Newsome and Richard Hardwick.
The game changer
The 68 min try by Alex Newsome. It was the knockout blow from which the Jaguares could never recover,
Western Force 16 (A. Newsome, I. Naisarani tries; I. Prior 2 pens) beat Los Jaguares 6 (JM Hernández 2 pens.)