The West

Force coach blasts refs
Force coach blasts refs

An angry Michael Foley labelled the refereeing "soft" after the Western Force slumped to a 30-7 defeat at the hands of the Crusaders in Christchurch.

The Force coach was upset with the way the breakdown was controlled by referee Mike Fraser and said one of the two penalty tries awarded late in the game that broke his side was a soft option.

While Foley stopped short of saying decisions had cost the Force the game, he insisted they had a bearing on the contest.

"From a refereeing perspective there were a lot of soft options taken," Foley said.

"At least one of those penalty tries ... and a number of times round the breakdown, there was one side being watched and one side not.

"That didn't have a bearing on the result, but the refereeing may have had a bearing at times."

The three-week Test break in Super Rugby could not have come at a better time for the Force, who lost another player, flanker Angus Cottrell breaking his left leg with just two minutes left in the game.

Cottrell is the 11th player ruled out for a long period this year and will miss the last three games of the season against the Blues, Reds and Brumbies.

The Force could slip to ninth on the ladder this weekend, but will still be well placed for a maiden finals berth when the competition resumes.

The Force allowed the Crusaders to build too much momentum in the first 20 minutes of last night's game and the 16-point break at half-time was too much to claw back.

"Our execution was off in the first 20 minutes and allowed them to get the momentum they probably had not earned," Foley said.

"We were a little off in terms of accuracy early and that gave a very good side some opportunities that they had not necessarily earned.

"Our guys put in a massive effort ... what we've gone through the last four weeks and the injuries, the guys battled on and when we came out at half-time they really launched into it.

"By all rights, our guys could have run out of steam, but they fought right to the end. It was a big effort."

The Force were left to rue the fact they turned in contrasting displays.

They were a different looking side in the second period, but spending the last 10 minutes with only 14 players after second-rower Sam Wykes was sin binned hurt.

The much improved second-half "ended" 14-7 in the hosts' favour courtesy of two penalty tries.

The West Australian

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