March 19, 2022
The Western Force have snatched victory against the Fijian Drua, kicking a penalty after the full-time siren to claim a 20-18 win in their Super Rugby Pacific clash in Sydney.
Bayley Kuenzle slotted the kick in the 85th minute after a prolonged stay in the Drua's defensive 22 at Leichhardt Oval earned a penalty for a high tackle awarded by referee Nic Berry.
It got the Force out of jail, having thrown away a 17-8 lead early in the second half to trail 18-17 until the late heroics.
Kuenzle's kick never looked like missing, splitting the middle from 10m in from the touchline with his first shot at goal of the contest.
Drua's Kalaveti Ravouvou and Vinaya Hombosi had looked to have set their side up to win with both in electric form.
Ravouvou's scything run early in the second half allowed Frank Lomani to score providing the spark they needed to get into the game.
After Lomani's try the Fijians kept pressing with strong carries inside the Force 22, eventually settling for a penalty to take an 18-17 lead on 56 minutes.
Earlier, Jeremy Thrush punched in the game's first points with a try via a deep lineout on 19 minutes as the Force finally found reward for possession dominance.
Their lineout looked a real factor and it continued to test the Drua's goalline defence although it largely held up outside of an Ian Prior penalty that allowed a 10-0 lead.
But Hombosi showed off his pace to spark his side, taking a pass from Ravouvou and burning off defenders to score and get the Drua into the contest at 10-5 own.
Lifted by the try, the Drua surged and connected well to go deep into attack and they looked set to take the lead after Samuela Tawake crashed through to find the line, but the try was chalked off due to a knock-on in the lead-up.
It did, however, allow them to add three points via a penalty for a 10-8 halftime score, with the Force reduced to 14 men after Ollie Callan was sin binned.
That didn't stop the Force scoring early in the second through Fergus Lee-Warner for their 17-8 lead.
DRUA 18: Tries (Vinaya Habosi, Frank Lomani) FORCE 20: Tries (Jeremey Thursh, Fergus Lee-Warner)
DRUA: 15. Jona Mataiciwa, 14. Selesitino Ravutaumada, 13. Apisalome Vota, 12. Kalaveti Ravouvou, 11. Vinaya Habosi, 10. Teti Tela, 9. Frank Lomani, 8. Nemani Nagusa (c), 7. Vilive Miramira, 6. Joseva Tamani, 5. Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 4. Sorovakatini Tuifagalele, 3. Samuela Tawake, 2. Mesulame Dolokoto, 1. Mesulame Dolokoto
RESERVES: 16. Zuriel Togiatama, 17. Jone Koroiduadua, 18. Manasa Saulo, 19. Chris Minimbi, 20. Kitione Salawa, 21. Peni Matawali, 22. Napolioni Bolaca, 23. Onisi Ratave
FORCE: 15. Jake Strachan, 14. Byron Ralston, 13. Richard Kahui, 12. Bayley Kuenzle, 11. Manasa Mataele, 10. Jake McIntyre, 9. Ian Prior, 8. Brynard Stander, 7. Ollie Callan, 6. Fergus Lee-Warner, 5. Izack Rodda, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 3. Greg Holmes, 2. Feleti Kaitu'u (c), 1. Harrison Lloyd
RESERVES: 16. Andrew Ready, 17. Bo Abra, 18. Santiago Medrano, 19. Jackson Pugh, 20. Tim Anstee, 21. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22. Reesjan Pasitoa, 23. Grason Makara
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Referees: Reuben Keane, James Palmer