Round 15 - Western Force v Highlanders, 23 May, NIB Stadium, Perth
- May 24, 2015
This game was always going to be tough being on the return leg of the South Afican tour and playing a team with nothing to lose and history on their side (the Force have won six games against the Highlanders since 2007) but the Highlanders managed to secure the win they needed to keep their play-off hopes alive. The first half didn't see many points go on the board for either team but still had the dynamic play the Highlanders are known for, but not able to finish off as well as they have in previous games. The opening quarter saw possession change sides numerous times with neither team being able to covert it into points until Lima Sopoaga was able to slot penalty goal after the Force infringed while the Highlanders were hot on attack, this was was met with a penalty to the Force through Sias Ebersohn soon after. The remainder of the half was locked up 3-all as both sides attacked the other's line, and just when it looked like it was going to be all tied up at the break, Sopoaga managed to push the Highlanders to a 6-3 lead with a penalty after the half time.
The Highlanders came out of the sheds stirred up for a big second 40 minutes and John Hardie notched up a try in his 50th match off the back of a driving maul after only being back on the grass for 7 minutes. The Force were then called upon to defend their line for close to 15 minutes as the Highlanders camped in the home side's 22 which ended with Sopoaga slotted a dropped goal. The Highlanders swung straight back onto the attack after the restart and Aaron Smith scored a great try after receiving the ball from a tackle breaking Richard Buckman.
A massive congratulations to Ben Smith on his 100th Investec Super Rugby game and John Hardie on his 50th. Both men putting in great shifts last night as they have throughout their whole seasons.
HALFTIME: FOR 3 - HIG 6
FULLTIME: FOR 3 - HIG 23
Pen - S.Ebersohn
Tries - J.Hardie, A.Smith
Pen - L.Sopoaga (2)
Con - M.Banks
Drop - L.Sopoaga