New South Wales Waratahs vs Western Force – Report – Super Rugby Pacific 2022 – 13 March 2022
The NSW Waratahs overcame skipper Jake Gordon’s late withdrawal to record a crucial Super Rugby Pacific 22-17 win over Western Force in Sydney.
Gordon was knocked out at the last minute of the crucial game with a hamstring injury, but Jack Grant proved a worthy replacement at Leichhardt Oval, a ground the half-back’s father knows well.
James Grant was a Waratah himself before moving to rugby league and playing in Balmain’s famous grand final in 1989 alongside Wayne Pearce, Ben Elias and Steve Roach.
The winger was envied for the speed of his feet, but it was Jack Grant’s quick hands that opened Sunday’s game.
Grant’s clean double pass for fullback Will Harrison earned the Waratahs their second try in the 40th minute and a decisive 22-7 half-time lead that the Force never really seemed to regain after the break.
Until then, the Tahs had struggled to finish, despite several promising attacking chances.
Execution has been an issue all season, so it was frustrating for Waratahs fans when Izaia Perese and Alex Newsome’s final passes fell to the ground with tries that seemed to beckon.
The New South Wales strikers took matters into their own hands, with energetic flanker Charlie Gamble taking advantage of the maul’s drive to post the team’s first try in the 15th minute.
The Force had taken the lead early on when winger Manasa Mataele crossed the line too easily to score and push the Waratahs into action.
But it took a steady stream of penalty goals from Harrison’s man of the match for NSW to convert their heavyweight of territory and possession into any kind of pressure on the scoreboard – until the intervention of Grant.
The austere second half looked destined to be a scoreless section until Force substitute prop Harry Lloyd crashed out late and then Ian Prior netted a last-minute penalty goal to clinch a valuable point bonuses for Strength.
Now 1-3 for the season, Perth’s franchise final hopes already look shaky, while the Waratahs improved to 2-2.
“It was unreal,” Coleman said of NSW’s first win of the year at their new temporary ground.
“Probably not as sharp as we wanted in the second half, but just winning is the most important thing.
“After the last two weeks, it’s a happy dressing room.”
Both teams will however need to improve significantly to challenge the New Zealand teams in the second half of the competition.