A bonus point was no consolation for the Western Force who missed the chance to head up the Australian Super Rugby conference with last night’s 22-16 loss to the Rebels.
However, the point that came from Nick Cummins’ after-the-siren-try, converted by Zack Holmes, could prove vital when it comes to finals qualification.
The Force stayed second in the Australian conference, just two points behind the Brumbies, but it was a case of just one game too many as they aimed for a sixth straight victory.
Much of the damage was done in the first half when the Force madewere forced to make 96 tackles.
Just six days after their win over the Waratahs, the Force looked weary when the Rebels decided on a full-frontal second-half attack, pummelling a sometimes ragged defence.
The Force were missing six frontline players, but somehow found one last effort to score the vital try.
Force coach Michael Foley said slow ball support and the scrum were areas that concerned him.
“They were the two crucial things in that first half that cost us a lot of energy,” Foley said.
“We were slow to support the ball and we were a little bit high. They were 10 per cent, 20 per cent better than us tonight and that’s small margins, but that’s all it takes.
“A little bit of work at the breakdown was off. It is only fine margins, but it doesn’t matter who you are playing, if they get under your guard you are chasing the game.
“We could have done better.
“There might be a lot of mitigating factors, but we have to overlook those things. The guys are disappointed.
We’re all disappointed and I’m pleased we’re disappointed. We didn’t play well enough.”
Because of the first-half problems, the visitors weren’t able to generate momentum and that took its toll in the later stages.
With tries hard to come by, the game looked all but over for the Force after an hour.
Jason Woodward had kicked the third of his five penalties, scrum-half Luke Burgess was introduced to change the complexion of the game, before Rebels captain Scott Higginbotham crashed over from a set scrum.
of his own.
The Rebels had been quickly out of the blocks, generating fast ball, effectively subduing the Force back row that was harried into some sloppy play and uncharacteristic mistakes.
At times the Rebels produced the kind of defence more usual from the Force and despite the first half statistics that were overwhelmingly against the Force somehow they hung on as the half ended 6-all.