Perth Spirit, laden with Western Force players, paid the price for poor discipline, losing 26-21 to Brisbane City in yesterday's National Rugby Championship match at McGillivray Oval.

The Spirit were raging favourites, but were outclassed by a far more cohesive City line-up.

After a dominant opening half the hosts slipped into a flat, ordinary performance, producing little of the fluid ball movement the NRC points system is designed to encourage.

A heavy penalty count added to their woes, especially when flanker Matt Hodgson was sin-binned.

There were some bright individual moments.

Local product, full-back Dane Haylett-Petty was outstanding and showed why Force coach Michael Foley brought him home last season.

Fly-half Dillyn Leyds showed why the Force are keen to keep the young South African as he notched up 16 points in the first half with two tries and two conversions before being replaced.

Disappointed Spirit coach Kevin Foote offered no excuses.

"I don't think we played our best rugby. The Brisbane side were pretty switched on," Foote said.

"We were on the wrong side of the penalty count and we've got to fix that if we want to go further in this competition.

"No real excuses, I just don't think we adapted as well as they did. Some of it was pretty basic.

"We've got to get better."

The late withdrawal of Samu Kerevi, who savaged the Force in their last Super Rugby game, robbed the crowd of the mouth-watering match-up with Kyle Godwin after his call-up for the Wallabies.

Godwin was steady in his first match back from injury after four months.

Spirit went into the break leading 21-18, but faded badly in the second half.

The West Australian

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