The opening match of the Asia Showcase Series didn’t disappoint with nine tries and 67 points served up in end-to-end thriller that illustrated perfectly the free-scoring style intended under Rapid Rugby’s innovate new laws.
Both the Western Force and South China Tigers made their attacking intent clear from the kick-off with seven tries scored in a frenetic first half that left players and spectators catching their breath.
It was the visitors who made the opening impression on the scoreboard with Glyn Hughes booting the first points for the new franchise, while he would also etch his name in the history books as the Tigers first try scorer when he dotted over the line at the nine minute mark.
It was a timely try for the South China Tigers who had quickly found themselves on the back foot following two tries in just three minutes by the Force. Leon Power registered the opener for the West Aussies five minutes in, before Fijian sensation Masi Dakuwaqa barrelled his way down the touchline shortly after to cross for the club’s first Power Try. [Read more about Rapid Rugby’s laws]
Andrew Deegan and Kieran Longbottom also added their name to the try scorers list for the Western Force, however Alexander Post delivered just before half time as the Tigers pegged back the Force lead to just 8 points.
The breakneck speed at which the first 35 minutes had been played was always going to be difficult to replicate, but with both coaches making the most of the 10 rolling substitutions allowed in Rapid Rugby, the game continued to produce some memorable moments.
Looking for some added firepower the Tigers introduced Olympic Rugby Sevens Gold Medallist, Sami Viriviri Nasagavesi, however the visitors were not able to replicate their first half scoring feats and didn’t add to their total in the second stanza.
After scoring a try in club’s win over the World XV last week, Force fullback Jack McGregor made it two from two starts when he found himself on the receiving end of a neat kick from Deegan that sat up perfectly and fell into his waiting arms. Rounding out a big night for the home side, Issak Fines added a seventh try as the clocked ticked close to full time.
The West Aussies’ performance putting them on top of the Asia Showcase ladder with six points (4 points for the win + 1 bonus point for winning by three or more tries + 1 bonus point for scoring four or more tries).
Western Force 45 – 22 South China Tigers
Starting XV: 1. Harrison LLOYD, 2. Andrew READY, 3. Kieran LONGBOTTOM, 4. Leon POWER, 5. Jeremy THRUSH, 6. Henry STOWERS, 7. Chris ALCOCK, 8. Brynard STANDER, 9. Ian PRIOR (c), 10. Andrew DEEGAN, 11. Masivesi DAKUWAQA, 12. Rodney IONA, 13. Henry TAEFU, 14. Clay UYEN, 15. Jack McGREGOR
Reserves: 16. Feleti KAITU’U, 17. Chris HEIBERG, 18. Tom SHEMINANT, 19. Johan BARDOUL, 20. Tevin FERRIS, 21. Issak FINES-LELEIWASA, 22. AJ ALATIMU, 23. Marcel BRACHE
South China Tigers
Starting XV: 18. Tau KOLOMATANGI, 2. Alexander POST, 3. Grant KEMP, 4. Fin FIELD, 5. Callum MCCULLOUGH, 6. James CUNNINGHAM, 7. Josh DOWSING, 8. Josh HRSTICH, 9. Bryn PHILLIPS, 10. Glyn HUGHES, 11. Tom VARNDELL, 12. Matthew ROSSLEE, 13. Lewis WARNER, 14. Ma CHONG, , 15. Nathan De THIERRY
Reserves: 16. Mitch ANDREWS, 17. Callum MCFEAT SMITH, 1. Jack PARFITT, 19. Michael PARFITT, 20. James SAWYER, 21. Ruan Du PLOOY, 22. Tom HILL, 23. Samisoni NASAGAVESI
Referee: Aaron POOK, AR1: Graham COOPER, AR2: Mark SHERIFF, TMO: Kyle BURNETT
3:07 G.Hughes (SCT) Penalty Goal South China Tigers by 3 [0 – 3]
4:57 L.Power (WF) Try Western Force by 2 [5 – 3]
6:00 I.Prior (WF) Conversion Western Force by 4 [7 – 3]
7:41 M.Dakuwaqa (WF) Try 9 Points Western Force by 13 [16 – 3]
8:58 G.Hughes (SCT) Try Western Force by 8 [16 – 8]
10:14 G.Hughes (SCT) Conversion Western Force by 6 [16 – 10]
11:33 Penalty Try (SCT) Try South China Tigers by 1 [16 – 17]
18:05 A.Deegan (WF) Try Western Force by 4 [21 – 17]
19:14 I.Prior (WF) Conversion Western Force by 6 [23 – 17]
28:36 K.Longbottom (WF) Try Western Force by 11 [28 – 17]
29:43 I.Prior (WF) Conversion Western Force by 13 [30 – 17]
34:09 A.Post (SCT) Try Western Force by 8 [30 – 22]
5:33 J.McGregor (WF) Try Western Force by 13 [35 – 22]
6:52 I.Prior (WF) Conversion Western Force by 15 [37 – 22]
25:40 A.Alatimu (WF) Penalty Goal Western Force by 18 [40 – 22]
29:14 I.Fines-Leleiwasa (WF) Try Western Force by 23 [45 – 22]