Rugby: Force win to stay in the hunt

Nick Cummins of the Force is tackled during the Super Rugby match between the Western Force and the Queensland Reds in Perth. Photo / Getty Images
Nick Cummins of the Force is tackled during the Super Rugby match between the Western Force and the Queensland Reds in Perth. Photo / Getty Images

The Western Force's departing winger Nick Cummins scored a try and had a hand in another as the Force beat the Queensland Reds 30-20 on Saturday to continue their hunt for a playoffs place in Super Rugby.

Cummins, who will leave at season's end to play in Japan, played a role in two tries in the first 20 minutes.

The Reds fought back from 17-3 down to tie the match at 20-20 after 68 minutes, but the Force responded with a late try to hooker Nathan Charles, converted by Jayden Hayward, who also kicked a penalty.

The Force moved into seventh place with one regular season round remaining and with a strong chance of reaching the playoffs for the first time in their history.

The Force must beat the Brumbies next weekend to have any chance of reaching the playoffs while the Reds, 12th on the table, can still have a say in the final standings when they play their arch-rivals, the Waratahs, next Saturday.

Cummins was prominent as the Force made a strong beginning to Saturday's match.

After fullback Mike Harris kicked a penalty to give the Reds an early 3-0 lead, Cummins scored a try which, with Hayward's conversion, gave the Force an advantage they never relinquished.

Cummins also played a vital part in a try to backrower Ben McCalman that saw the Force's lead peak at 17-3 after 19 minutes.

Queensland lacked efficiency and physical presence at breakdowns in the early going, but they came into the match as it opened up around half time.

Centre Samu Kerevi scored a try that cut the lead to 17-10, then giant prop Albert Anae crossed to help the Reds get back onto level terms.

"Our first 20 was probably our best 20 of the year but we went up and down and it was good to get a win," Force captain Matt Hodgson said.

"Next week's game with the Brumbies is a big game for us but we've put ourselves in this position and we're going to go down there and try to get the win for sure."

The Reds have long been out of the playoffs race but have a chance next weekend to upset the Waratahs' run towards a home semi-final.

"We probably hurt ourselves a lot by missed opportunites and silly errors," captain James Horwill said.

"We couldn't get the flow of our game going and also they pressured us at the breakdown and we probably weren't efficient enough there."

Western Force 30 (Nick Cummins, Ben McCalman, Nathan Charles tries; Jayden Hayward 3 conversions, 3 penalties), Queensland Reds 20 (Samu Kerevi, Albert Anae tries; Mike Harris 2 conversions, 2 penalties). HT: 17-10.

- AP

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