AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – MAY 24: Jake McIntyre of Western Forcescores a try during the round 10 Super Rugby Pacific match between the Moana Pasifika and the Western Force at Mt Smart Stadium on May 24, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
Western Force beat Moana Pasifika 28-48 Super Rugby Pacific at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland.
Jake McIntyre bagged a brace as the Western Force overcame an error-strewn Moana Pasifika to keep their slim playoff hopes alive in the City of Sails.
Andrew Ready, Byron Ralston, Toni Pulu, Jackson Pugh, and Kyle Godwin also scored as the Western Force claimed a bonus-point win.
Ian Prior landed one penalty and four conversions (11 pts) to go with two assists as the halfback led his side to victory.
Tim Sampson’s side ends a seven-match losing streak in Super Rugby Pacific, and an eight-year drought across the Tasman.
This is the Western Australian outfit’s first Super Rugby win in New Zealand since 2014 when they beat the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Aaron Mauger’s men managed four tries of their own, but mistakes cost the Pacific Islanders.
This 20-point defeat is the franchise’s 10th in a row this season, and it leaves Moana bottom of the table.
Tima Fainga’anuku bagged a first-half brace for Moana Pasifika, but the try-scoring chances were few as the game went on.
Ezekiel Lindenmuth and Taukiha’amea Koloamatangi crossed in the second half, but a poor lineout and handling from the islanders limited their opportunities.
Lincoln McClutchie converted all four tries (8 pts) and had a try chalked off, but the flyhalf struggled with the backfoot ball.
Moana’s forwards lost five lineouts and four scrums as their set-piece – the worst in the tournament – floundered once again.
The Force needs to beat the Hurricanes in Perth and hope that the Highlanders lose to the Rebels in Melbourne if they are to make the quarter-finals.
Western Force fight back to take a deserved five-point lead into the shed after a poor start to the game
Ready, McIntyre, and Ralston all crossed for the Western Australians, who fought back to give the Force a 19-14 lead on the stroke of halftime.
Moana Pasifika came flying out the blocks with two converted tries after Ready’s ninth-minute try put the tourists ahead.
Fainga’anuku’s 11-minute brace gave Moana a slender 14-5 lead against the Force after 23 minutes.
But Levi Aumua’s 27th-minute yellow card for a tip-tackle on Richard Kahui saw the momentum shift in the Australian’s favour.
McIntyre’s fifth try of the season cut the gap to two after Prior’s conversion.
Jeremy Thrush had a try chalked off before the break. The Force, however, still managed to score soon after when Ralston dotted down after the hooter.
Two quick scores from the Force’s Toni Pulu and Byron Ralston took the game away from Moana Pasifika
Pulu extended the Force’s lead with his 20th Super Rugby try minutes after the restart.
McIntyre barged his way over for his second of the night. But Lindenmuth pulled a score back from close range.
Prior added a penalty before Pugh scored to open up a commanding 41-21 lead just after the hour mark.
The mistakes continued to hamper Mauger’s men, but Koloamatangi’s crash-ball score chalked off the Force’s bonus point with 10 to play.
McClutchie’s try was chalked off for obstruction by Henry Taefu with less than five minutes remaining.
An end-to-end finish saw Godwin finish off a sublime counter-attack from deep to reclaim the important bonus point.
A half of two halves as Moana Pasifika dominate the first 25 minutes but fade away as the Force fight back
Ready flopped over for his third try of the season.
The hooker broke from the back of the rolling maul to open the scoring, but Fainga’anuku scored twice to put the hosts ahead.
Fainga’anuku broke through an unguarded ruck and slipped past Prior and Fergus Lee-Warner before fending off Ready to score under the posts.
Some slick handling by McClutchie and Neria Foma’i ended with Fainga’anuku diving over in the corner for his second of the night.
McClutchie converted both, but his side’s good fortune fell away after Aumua’s brain freeze.
With the centre in the sin-bin, the visitors struck to take a lead they would never relinquish.
Prior and Kahui made a mess of a decent chance; although, the captain did make up for the mistake moments later.
Prior’s skip-pass to Ready on the sideline set up McIntyre for his fifth score of the campaign.
Ready sucked in two defenders before offloading to the supporting Manasa Mataele, who sent the fullback in for the try.
Thrush’s try got taken off the board, but it did not matter. The Force struck again.
Ralston, playing his first game in the midfield, collected Prior’s pass with an angled run and reached out to score at halftime.
Sampson’s side pull away and leave Mauger’s men winless in 10
Almost straight after the restart, Ryan McCauley’s strong carry got the Force over the gain-line and to the 22.
Reesjan Pasitoa’s weaving run saw him slip a tackle before sending Pulu away.
Four minutes later, the Aussies struck again.
McIntyre danced through three defenders after a scintillating linebreak by Kahui, who raced from his half to the opposition’s 22.
Kahui drew the defenders before combining with Pulu, who popped inside to the fullback. McIntyre still had work to do, he somehow barged his way over the line, taking three defenders with him.
Moana did not give up despite their lineout breaking down and their scrum beginning to collapse.
A sustained attack on the opposition’s line finished with seven when Lindenmuth crashed over from close range.
Prior extended his side’s lead to two goals with a 57th-minute penalty.
The game was done on the hour when Tim Anstee’s break set up Pugh’s score.
Prior’s delayed pass to Pugh saw the number eight claim his maiden Super Rugby try. The scrum-half added the extras to open up a 20-point lead.
McClutchie’s restart did not go 10; the Force won a scrum penalty, but Kahui did not find touch – the game became a mess.
A barnstorming run by Sione Tu’ipulotu came to nothing after a knock-on kills the attack.
However, the islanders did strike when Koloamatangi took a crash ball to score.
McClutchie’s try got chalked off, which gave the Australians a shot at regaining the lost bonus point.
Godwin wraped up proceeding after Mataele’s wonderful midfield break saw the Force finish off a frenetic final few moments of the game.
Final Score: Moana 28 (14) Force 48 (19)
Tries – Fainga’anuku (2), Lindenmuth, Koloamatangi
Con – McClutchie (4)
Cards – Aumua (Yellow, 27′)
Tries – Ready, McIntyre (2), Ralston, Pulu, Pugh, Godwin
Pen – Prior
Con – Prior (4), McDonald
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2: Brendan Pickerill
Moana Pasifika: 1 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 2 Luteru Tolai, 3 Chris Apoua, 4 Veikoso Poloniati, 5 Mahonri Ngakuru, 6 Sione Tu’ipulotu, 7 Alamanda Motuga, 8 Jack Lam (captain), 9 Ereatara Enari, 10 Lincoln McClutchie, 11 Neria Foma’i, 12 Henry Taefu, 13 Levi Aumua, 14 Tima Fainga’anuku, 15 Lolagi Visinia.
Replacements: 16 Samiuela Moli, 17 Taukiha’amea Koloamatangi, 18 Joe ‘Apiokotoa, 19 Alex McRobbie, 20 Penitoa Finau, 21 Manu Paea, 22 Fine Inisi, 23 Willy Havili.
Western Force: 1 Tom Robertson, 2 Andrew Ready, 3 Santiago Medrano, 4 Ryan McCauley, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 7 Tim Anstee, 8 Jackson Pugh, 9 Ian Prior (captain), 10 Reesjan Pasitoa, 11 Manasa Mataele, 12 Richard Kahui, 13 Bryon Ralston, 14 Toni Pulu, 15 Jake McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Bo Abra, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Jack Winchester, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Kyle Godwin, 23 Brad Lacey.