AAP Rugby

Tahs rally to topple Force in Super return

By AAP Newswire

The Western Force have shown they aren't in Super Rugby AU to make up the numbers after giving the NSW Waratahs a scare in their first outing at the SCG.

Following a first-round bye, the Force looked right at home on Saturday night in their first Super match since 2017, when they were cut from the original competition, before falling 23-14.

Force skipper Ian Prior said his team felt they matched their opponents in most departments.

"I think we were up to the pace - I think we didn't adjust to a couple of the new rules there - that offside rule, we got done a few times," Prior told Fox Sports.

"I thought we were up to it physically and conditioning-wise but a little bit of discipline let us down."

They led until the 61st minute when NSW lock Tom Staniforth burrowed over the line, with the converted try opening up a six-point lead for the home side.

The try came after Karmichael Hunt earned his team a lineout with the first of his two 50-22 kicks, the former Wallaby making a strong impression in his return from injury off the bench.

Prior fittingly delivered his team's first points with a penalty strike after 13 minutes.

The long-time captain and fellow veteran Jono Lance, who joined from UK club Worcester, led a polished performance by the West Australian side, who had temporarily relocated to the NSW Hunter Valley.

Former Junior Wallabies winger Byron Ralston scored their opening try in the 28th minute when he barged past Waratahs No.10 Will Harrison, who was defending on the flank.

The Force led 14-7 at halftime with Waratahs prop Gus Bell securing some much-needed points with a 39th-minute try after a driving lineout.

NSW looked a different team after the break, playing with much more energy to keep the Force scoreless.

They still only managed the one try but it was enough to secure their first points after an opening-round loss to Queensland.

It also ended a three-game losing streak dating back to the previous competition shut-down in March.

Waratahs skipper Rob Simmons admitted the win was a relief.

"It sure is, a lot of hard work went into that one and it's good to finally get the result," he said.