Reds suffer shock loss to Rona-led Force

Chance Peni of the Force fends off Samu Kerevi of the Reds at NIB Stadium in Perth
Chance Peni of the Force fends off Samu Kerevi of the Reds at NIB Stadium in Perth RICHARD WAINWRIGHT

NRL convert Curtis Rona's first Super Rugby try proved a matchwinner as the fired-up Force beat the Reds 26-19 in a boilover at Perth's nib Stadium.

Fomer Bulldogs winger Rona crossed in the 69th minute to give the Force the lead - which they were able to defend with some heroic goalline defence.

It was the Force's first home win since beating the Waratahs in round 13, 2015 - 10 games and 663 long days ago.

A small but passionate crowd of 7008 watched on, hoping that a gorgeous sunset wasn't symbolic of their Super Rugby future.

The club's long-term status is in doubt as SANZAAR prepare for a meeting next Thursday to nut out the competition's format for 2018 and beyond.

The spirit shown by Dave Wessels' side - after losing key men Adam Coleman and Jono Lance - certainly can't hurt as the suits gather round the boardtable.


Curtis Rona of the Force is tackled
Curtis Rona of the Force is tackled RICHARD WAINWRIGHT

It came at the expense of his old team, but Fox Sports commentator Tim Horan was impressed.

"There's been a lot of talk about Australia losing their fifth team and the Western Force showed a lot of character tonight," Horan said.

It was a good night for codehoppers.

Reds winger Eto Nabuli had a hat-trick in a breakout performance, with the former Dragons flyer dotting down in the 19th, 21st and 49th minutes.

His second try was a wonderful long-range effort.

Force winger Chance Peni - who also has a league background - crossed in the second minute after the Force confused the Reds defence with some slick passing.

Lock Matt Philip was the Force's other try-scorer.


Players scuffle  at NIB Stadium in Perth
Players scuffle at NIB Stadium in Perth RICHARD WAINWRIGHT

Philip levelled the scores in the 34th minute when he barged over from close range but shortly after lock partner Coleman left the field with a calf injury.

"He's copped a bit of a knock but we think he should be OK," Force assistant coach Joe Barakat told Horan.

It was 12-all at halftime.

Both sides are now 1-1.

The Force lost their opening match to the Waratahs while the Reds were first-up winners against the Sharks.

Topics:  queensland reds super rugby western force

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