McCalman doubt over spear tackle
McCalman doubt over spear tackle

Western Force No.8 Ben McCalman's late spear tackle in the team's remarkable 31-29 win over the Highlanders on Saturday could be costly.

McCalman faces suspension for a couple of weeks and would miss Saturday's crucial clash with the Chiefs at nib Stadium if found guilty this week by the SANZAR judiciary.

He was outstanding until yellow-carded by referee Glen Jackson for lifting Highlanders prop Kane Hames seven minutes from the end of the nail-biting victory in Dunedin. He was later cited by the game commissioner who believed the incident reached the red-card threshold.

McCalman was sent to the sin-bin at the same time as second-rower Adam Coleman for a professional foul, reducing the Force to 13 players for the final gripping minutes, but they held on for their first consecutive bonus- point wins.

The Force had to throw centre Junior Rasolea and winger Luke Morahan into hastily re-organised scrums as they battled on their own line.

Weight of numbers eventually saw Highlanders substitute Hayden Parker cross but his conversion attempt, the last kick of the game, fell short.

Too often the Force have been on the wrong side of this kind of result but after such a gutsy win players will feel that, for once, justice was done.

Second-rower Sam Wykes did not realise the Force had lost two players until the first scrum after the sin-binnings.

"I saw Ben going off but didn't realise Adam had gone too," Wykes said. "I suddenly realised I had nobody to pack in with. It was a tough day but we showed tremendous character.

"We just got the boys together and tried to stay calm. There's not a lot of tactics you can talk about when you're down to 13 players.

"It was pretty exciting afterwards but we've only won two out of four and nobody was celebrating like we had won the championship. We've got the Chiefs next and we are under no illusions about what we have to do. They are playing red-hot footy."

Coach Michael Foley, proud of his side's performance, knows Saturday's clash against the Super Rugby champions will be a litmus test.

"For it to go right down to the wire like that, the guys showed a lot of character. I'm really proud of these guys, enormous character was shown," Foley said.

"The last two wins gave the guys a lot of belief but the Chiefs will be a massive challenge. We are going to be challenged to get it right again.

"We'll recover as well as we can, put effort and energy back in again."

The win against the Highlanders came despite the home side having more possession, making more metres, missing fewer tackles and having an overwhelming penalty count. It put the Force seventh on the ladder.

The West Australian

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