'Tahs conquer Perth
Three first-half tries helped the Waratahs to overcome the Force 28-13 in their Super Rugby derby clash at nib Stadium in Perth on Sunday.
Despite missing 16 leading players due to call-ups to the Australian squad and also through injury, the Waratahs were clinical in the first-half and opened up a gap on the scoreboard that the Force simply couldn't close down.
The loss will only add to the criticism directed at the Force and their coach Michael Foley after fielding a weakened side against the British and Irish Lions on Wednesday - with the Force going on to lose what was an effectively a dead rubber match against the Waratahs despite being at full-strength.
The scoring actually began though with the hosts, Jayden Hayward converting a penalty on what would prove to be a torrid afternoon for the Force full-back as his only successful kick at goal from four attempts.
A successful series of phases from the Waratahs then culminated in lock Oliie Atkins scoring his first try on debut, powering under the Force defence as the visitors easily maintained possession early on.
Cam Crawford's burst down the right touchline after good work from Drew Mitchell then underlined the visitors' dominant start - 14-3 up after just ten minutes and cruising, with Pat McKibbin fading in an impressive conversion from the touchline.
A penalty from McKibbin stretched the lead for the Waratahs but the Force rallied, stand-in captain Pek Cowan powering his way over the line after the hosts disrupted a defending scrum five metres out from the try line.
It was a glimmer of hope that was snuffed out five minutes later when Tom Kingston scored the Waratahs third try, doing well to control a ricocheting ball in his arms to make contact with the line and put the Waratahs 22-8 up - a score that remained unchanged until the interval despite heavy pressure and territory from the Force inside the visitors 22, a series of driving lineouts failing to bear fruit.
A considerable improvement in defence made the Force more competitive after the interval as they chased the game, but it took them more than 20 minutes to make an impression on the scoreboard when Kyle Godwin glided over following Sias Ebersohn's break.
Two penalties, one from McKibbin and the second by fly-half Bernard Foley, wrapped up the result for the Waratahs who now move up to 7th in the Super Rugby table, whilst the Force remain rooted to the bottom of the Australia Conference.
For Western Force:
Tries: Cowan, Godwin
Tries: Atkins, Crawford, Kingston
Con: McKibbin 2
Pen: McKibbin 2, Foley
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Junior Rasolea, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Angus Cottrell, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Hugh McMeniman, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Rory Walton, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pek Cowan (c).
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Salesi Ma'afu, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Ed Stubbs, 22 Sam Norton-Knight.
Waratahs: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Tom Kingston, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Cam Crawford, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Pat McCutcheon, 6 Lopeti Timani 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Jeremy Tilse.
Replacements: 16 Richard Aho, 17 Luke Holmes, 18 Adam Coleman, 19 Liam Winton, 20 AJ Gilbert, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Terrence Hepetema.