A fired-up Western Force side showed little sympathy for an injury-ravaged Queensland Reds team as they thrashed the visiting Super Rugby champions 45-19 in Perth yesterday.
The Force scored two early tries to charge out to a 21-0 lead seven minutes before halftime and twisted the knife with another three after the break to notch their second win of the season amid four frustrating losses.
“Very enjoyable game,” Force captain David Pocock said in a pitchside interview. “[Inconsistency] is something that we’ve been trying to address and we’ve been working hard off the field ... the challenge is to back it up next week.”
The Reds, humiliated 61-8 by the Bulls in Pretoria last week, slumped to their third straight loss and are mired mid-table with a 3-3 record and a clutch of frontline players, including key playmaker Quade Cooper, sidelined for weeks.
The Perth-based Force lost to the Melbourne Rebels by a point the previous week after conceding a 21-point head-start and appeared determined to atone for the slow start, attacking with abandon from the outset.
Flyhalf James Stannard crossed near the left corner in the eighth minute and although he limped off injured minutes later, the Force charged on to reap two penalty goals as the out-of-sorts Reds found new and inventive ways to fumble passes, miss targets and cough up turnovers.
Veteran lock Nathan Sharpe drove over the line from a ruck 2m out for the Force’s second try in the 32nd minute.
A rare foray into Force territory saw the Reds awarded a penalty and captain James Horwill wave away a three-point shot at goal.
Prop James Slipper barged over at the left corner after a second penalty scrum to reward his captain, but flyhalf Dallan Murphy butchered the conversion kick and the Reds went into the half trailing 21-5.
Brett Sheehan dashed any hopes of a sustained Reds fightback by charging down a kick to set up a try for replacement flyhalf Ben Seymour, who sprinted 30m to touch down near the right corner.
Van Humphries clambered over for the Reds in the 51st minute, but an inspired kick stabbed low and across the ground by Seymour sat up perfectly for winger Samu Wara, who charged down the right wing to score the Force’s fourth try for a bonus point.
No. 8 Matt Hodgson brought the Force’s fifth try three minutes later to complete the rout.
Reds winger Dom Shipperley scored a late try after the whistle, but it was of little consolation for the visitors, whose hopes of defending their title now appear precarious.