The Force returned to a newly grandstanded nib Stadium, hoping to stop the Cheetahs racking up a rare clean sweep of three wins on their away trip.
It was a horror start for the Force with both set pieces misfiring. Godwin, however, peeled two beautiful breaks off midfield scrum and CS Ebersohn put a pearler of a kick from to the corner to get some early pressure going. The Force were playing a great territory game. However, setting a trend for the rest of the first half, Ebersohn missed penalties at 4 and 14 minutes.
Eventually the Cheetahs showed some threat to the line and luckily for the Force only came away with a penalty goal in the 25th minute.
In the 28th minute the Force were back applying pressure at the right end of the field. The Cheetahs tried to run it out from deep. Lynn got a hairy mitt to it and three passes later Winston Stanley was over in the corner. 7-3
Two more set piece Force stuff-ups got the Cheetahs downfield and they scored another penalty goal in their second visit to the Force half. 7-6 in the 33rd minute.
At the end of the first half the Force had spent three minutes in the Cheetahs’ 22, versus only one minute in their own, yet the scores were almost level. The Force had to start taking points.
By now the Force 10 Ebersohn perfected the uncatchable pass and a spate of handling errors ensued. In the 50th minute youngster Kyle Godwin made a stunning break then proved he’s a Wallaby contender by stuffing a chip kick instead of passing to either of the men to his left or right.
Richard Brown made a great midfield bust. The Cheetahs were once again all over the ball on the ground and Ebersohn replacement Jaden Hayward slotted his first 3 points. 10-6 after 58 minutes.
The match was starting to free up with the ref actually clearing up the breakdown. The Cheetahs got a warning but Hayward missed the points.
By the 70th minute the Cheetahs had found their rhythm and were camped down in the Force 22. Despite Mathewson ripping the ball free from a Cheetah over the line, they took the 3 and added the same again two minutes later thanks to an offside from a shonky midfield bomb from Paddy Dellit. 10-12 after 73 minutes.
With four minutes left the Force were back to their old ways, looking to pick and drive 70 metres, when Riaan Smith put a shot on Ben McCalman who spilt the pill. Willie Le Roux pounced on the ball and it was 19-10. All over, Red Rover.
The Force were left to rue (or should that be Roux?) pressure that never made it into points.
The Game Changer
The biggest influence on the match was the Force’s two penalty misses early on coupled with a botched try and the end for the first half with Pek Cowan’s imitation of a sidestep.
But the event that sealed the result was McCalman’s shelling of the pill in the tackle for Le Roux run in under the sticks with four minutes to go.
The G&GR MOTM
The Cheetahs relied on pulling a Force by slowing the ball at the breakdown – which they did ably through the clear man of the match Heinrich Brüssow.
Alfie Mafi and Kyle Godwin both put their hands up, with a special mention to Chris Alcock during his time on the field.
CHEETAHS 19 (Willie Le Roux try Riaan Smit con 4 pens) bt WESTERN FORCE 10 (Winston Stanley try Sias Ebersohn con Jayden Hayward pen) at nib Stadium. Referee: Garratt Williamson. Crowd: 12,784.