Western Force brushed aside in 50-3 Blues thrashing

A woeful Western Force have copped a Super Rugby Pacific thrashing, held try-less in a 50-3 belting by the Blues at Eden Park.

Bashed up front by a powerful Blues pack on Friday evening, the bottom-ranked Force were never in the contest as they slumped to their heaviest defeat of the season.

It was the seventh time in the past three years the Force have been beaten by 35 points or more, and their biggest-ever loss against the Blues.

Halfback Taufa Funaki nabbed a double for the Blues but it was their forwards that got the job done, overpowering the Force on their way to four of their side’s eight tries.

Western Force captain Nic White tries, and fails, to make a tackle.
The Force were simply blown away by the Blues' intensity in Auckland, Nic White (r) says.

Force captain Nic White admitted his side hadn't turned up with the required intensity to match it with one of the competition's best packs.

“You've got to fight fire with fire sometimes and we lost what felt like the majority of our up-front battles,” he said.

“We knew the contact zone was going to be important to us, we just didn't win enough of those.

“They're a big side - we know that, I think everyone knows that - a big powerful side. 

"We looked to move them around but we didn't do that enough.”

In hindsight, the Force would surely regret taking a penalty goal shortly before the half-hour while trailing 14-0 instead of pressing on in search of a try in a rare venture deep into Blues’ territory.

Five-eighth Ben Donaldson knocked over the goal and the Blues gathered their own restart, with second-rower Laghlan McWhannell crossing to make it 21-3 seconds later in a moment that seemed to drain the fight out of the Force.

If that didn’t end their chances, silky interplay between brothers Akira and Rieko Ioane that ended with a try for Funaki to give the Blues a 28-3 lead at halftime surely did.

The Blues’ scrum forced penalties at will and produced the match’s first try for Ofa Tu'ungafasi, with hooker Ricky Riccitelli crossing off the back of a rolling maul to make it 14-0.

Ofa Tu’ungafasi scores the Blues' first try.
Ofa Tu’ungafasi scored the first of the Blues' eight tries in their 50-3 triumph.

Any thought of a second-half fightback was quickly snuffed out when No.8 Hoskins Sotutu powered over on 43 minutes, before centre Corey Evans picked off a loose Force pass and crossed untouched soon after in one of the Australian side's more embarrassing moments.

Soft defending was a theme throughout, the Force missing a whopping 28 tackles compared with the Blues’ six.

Blues captain Dalton Papali'i said if he was offered scoring 50 points or keeping a side to just three, he’d happily take the defensive performance.

“It's just about working hard for each other ... defence wins championships,” he said.

“It's all about attitude, defence. You can have all the talent in the world and make breaks, offloads and all that stuff, but what comes down to a good defence is attitude and wanting to work hard.”

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