Tahs shade Force 19-13 in Super Rugby

Adrian Warren
Tahs shade Force in Super Rugby tussle

Former NRL back Reece Robinson produced a near-perfect kicking display as NSW Waratahs slogged their way to a 19-13 Super Rugby opening-round win over Western Force on Saturday.

Both teams scored one try in wet and slippery conditions which produced plenty of mistakes and few flowing passages of play.

The Tahs trailed 13-9 at the break, but scored 10 unanswered points to secure the win, with Force picking up a bonus point.

Robinson, kicking because Wallabies five-eighth Bernard Foley was absent due to concussion, landed four penalties and converted Will Skelton's 44th minute try.

His only miss came from a penalty attempt right on the siren.

Five-eighth and former Waratah Jono Lance scored all of the Force's points, scampering over for their try following good work from No.8 Richard Hardwick and halfback Ryan Louwrens close to the Tahs line.

Wallabies forwards Tolu Latu and Will Skelton were strong performers for NSW.

Waratahs strike weapon Israel Folau barely touched the ball while his opposite number and former NRL star Curtis Rona also got little opportunity to show his attacking prowess.

NSW established an early 6-0 lead after 12 minutes, with the Force giving away five penalties in the first 12 minutes.

As the half progressed, it was the Tahs who became undisciplined and gave away penalties and the Force forwards became more assertive and did well in the set pieces.

The Tahs had Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu sin-binned in the 23rd minute after his side committed a number of breakdown penalties.

Skelton regained the lead for NSW, four minutes into the second half, when he bumped off Rona and crashed over to score, as NSW quickly took a penalty close to the Force line.

NSW enjoyed a good period in the first 15 minutes of the second half, but Skelton's converted try was their only tangible reward.

Rona did get the crowd going early with a lifting tackle on Waratahs flanker Jack Dempsey.

Force hooker Tatafu Poltoa-Nau, who amassed more than 140 caps for NSW, came off the bench in the 50th minute, but the NSW scrum immediately pressured the Force into conceding a penalty.

Hardwick was sin-binned with just more than a minute left for a dangerous tackle on Israel Folau, but both sides struggled to create try-scoring chances.

Neither coach was happy with his team's performance, but Gibson was pleased with the efforts of Skelton, Latu and Robinson and relieved to get the win.

"We could have easily dropped that game tonight, it's really pleasing that we stuck in there and ground it out," Gibson said.

"We got the result. Clearly there's some areas in our game that we need to improve in terms of building pressure, putting phases on."

Force coach David Wessels was pleased that Rona contained Folau pretty well and showed a couple of nice touches with the ball, but angry his team faltered at critical moments.

"In the first half we defended really well but ultimately we probably lost it in the big moments," Wessels said.

"We lost some of our detail and I'm pretty angry about that to be honest."

Neither coach reported any injuries.

The crowd was silent for a short period before the game in memory of Waratahs and Wallabies lock Dan Vickerman, who died last weekend.

The Force face a short turnaround before hosting the Reds in Perth on Thursday, while the Waratahs catch a flight to South Arfrica on Sunday before playing the Kings in Johannesburg next Saturday.