The Western Force kept their Super 14 finals hopes alive by thrashing the hapless Queensland Reds 39-7 on Friday night.
Aside from the first 15 minutes of the game the Force dominated the Reds, scoring the first five tries of the match, and six in total, against their arch-rivals en route to one of their biggest wins in four years of Super rugby.
The Force led 17-0 at halftime and put the seal on a memorable win with a try to Haig Sare after the final buzzer to cap a miserable night for the Reds, who also conceded 50 points last weekend.
The loss was the fourth from as many away matches for the Reds this season and they haven’t won in their last 19 games away from Brisbane in a drought stretching back to 2006.
It was another dirty night for the Reds, their hopes all but gone when Scott Higginbotham was sin-binned for punching the Force’s Josh Valentine in the 53rd minute, just moments after he’d come off the bench with his side down 20-0.
The Force sealed the Reds’ fate in the 60th minute, David Pocock handing off to Tamaita Horua for the Force’s third try, with Matt Giteau’s conversion giving the home side a match-winning 27-0 lead that was extended by another five points when Ryan Cross scored his first try of the season in the 72nd minute.
The Reds couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities and three times appeared to have breached the Force line for their opening try, including youngster Blair Connor twice in the space of a couple of minutes in the second half, only to be denied by the officials each time, before Connor finally produced a consolation try in the 74th minute.
There was an early hint of things to come for the Reds when Berrick Barnes missed a long drop goal attempt in the 11th minute.
Former Force star Digby Ioane, who tried valiantly to lift his side throughout, broke the defensive line a couple of minutes later and threatened to set up a try, but Connor couldn’t hang onto the pass.
The Reds had the early initiative, but the Force quickly changed that, with Giteau opening the scoring in the 18th minute via a penalty, before exciting teenager James O’Connor burst through a Mark McLinden tackle in the 20th minute to score the game’s first try, which Giteau converted for a 10-0 lead.
In the 31st minute Drew Mitchell, tipped to join the Reds next season, scored under the posts as the Force skipped clear.
The Reds were plagued by ball handling errors in the first half and to add further insult, Ioane was just centimeters away from a try when he was held up over the line after the halftime buzzer.