Western Force recruit Ben Donaldson is feeling confident for Round 1 despite Saturday’s 22-20 trial game loss to the ACT Brumbies where they couldn’t build enough pressure.
The Force went down despite Henry O’Donnell’s after-the-siren try on the right edge, with Max Burey pushing wide a tough conversion attempt for a draw in front of a good crowd in hot conditions at the Club’s Fan Day at Revo Fitness Stadium in Claremont.
The Brumbies scored four tries to the Force’s three, but the visitors enjoyed more attacking territory. The WA side did well to stay in touch and push for a result at the death, with the Force defence showing resolve.
The Force, who won their opening trial game 21-19 over the Queensland Reds last Saturday, don't play competitively next weekend ahead of their Round 1 opener against the Hurricanes.
Wallabies fly-half Donaldson, who scored his first try in Force colours in the first half and impressed with his kicking game, hailed his side’s defence and depth against ACT with young duo Ronan Leahy and O’Donnell both coming on to score five-pointers.
“It was a good hit-out for the boys against probably the top Australian side,” Donaldson said post-game.
“Very close game, bit disappointing, we couldn’t build any phases, couldn’t build any pressure.
“It’s always tough when you can’t get past one or two phases. In saying that, pretty proud of the boys to stay that close against a good side like the Brumbies, but disappointing.
“I think our defence was really good today. Obviously letting in 22 points isn’t always nice but a lot of that game when we couldn’t hold the ball our defence had to muscle up and I thought we did pretty well. Getting a few turnovers on the back of that relieved a bit of pressure.
“Second game for the year, so we’re still building. Plenty of things to work on, but pretty confident going into Round 1.”
Australia Under-20’s rep O’Donnell, who joined the Force in the off-season, combined with teenage Academy winger Ronan Leahy for the late try. Leahy, himself, scored his second five-pointer in successive trial games to level it up at 15-15.
“Henry and Ronan two of the young boys getting an opportunity, they showed what they’re made of,” 24-year-old Donaldson said.
“They’re fearless. It’s really good to see. When the game is in the balance they’ve got the confidence to do something like that and score the try.
“I think that’s what we’re building with the squad, next man up, everyone who comes on the field is ready to go. That showed there in the last few minutes.”
Donaldson was delighted to get his first try for the Force, albeit in a trial game, and was excited for his official Club debut in front of the Sea of Blue at HBF Park in Round 1 when the Force host the Hurricanes on Friday 23 February, with tickets on sale via Ticketmaster.
“First try in the new colours is always nice,” he said. “It was a tough game, very hot today. The boys were feeling it out there.
“100 per cent very excited. It was my first game at home. It’s my first game at HBF against the Canes. Great turnout with the crowd today so hopefully they can replicate that for Round 1.”
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