Five things we learnt from Force-Moana Pasifika

Sat, Mar 11, 2023, 8:43 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Western Force and Moana Pasifika went down to the wire in Perth

The Western Force did what alluded them so often in 2022, closing out a tight victory with a three-point win over Moana Pasifika.

Bryce Hegarty proved the hero, throwing the long ball to set up George Poolman's try to level the scores before kicking the game-winner from right in front as the Force escaped whilst down to 13 players.

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So what did we learn?

1.Made for scrum life

Hamish Stewart and Toni Pulu will forever have scrum bragging rights following the conclusion of this game

Having lost Ollie Callan and Siosifa Amone in the final seven minutes, the pair found themselves on the flanks as the Force powered through the Pasifika pack to draw a penalty.

Credit must go to Santiago Medrano, producing the ultimate closer role with Amore in the bin, demolishing his counterpart before finally earning the penalty on the second occasion.

It was just what new coach Simon Cron needed after last week's demoralising defeat.

2. Own worse enemy

Aaron Mauger must be wondering where that all went wrong for the visitors.

With the Force down to 13 men, they looked to power their way into their 22, only for replacement scrumhalf Issak Fines Leleiwasa to get over the ball for the pilfer.

They then proceeded to spill the charge down from the resulting goal-line drop out, giving the Force the only chance they were ever going to get to score points before heading into extra time.

Moana desperately missed the presence of Christian Leali'ifano to close out this game.

3. Wily veteran strikes

Jeremy Thrush's game awareness and smarts shone through when the Force needed them the most.

Trailing 15-6 just before the break, he knew Suetena Asomua was not going to be able to help himself off the quick tap, drawing the clearest of yellow cards.

From here, Folau Fainga'a did what he does best, finding the perfect lane at the back of the rolling maul to score and flip momentum.

The 37-year-old stepped up with regular captain Michael Wells amongst several key figures on the sidelines.

4. Flipping the script

Moana appeared to take lessons from last week's defeat to the Chiefs, delivering their own piece of magic to catch the Force napping in the first minute.

Whilst not as fast as Rameka Poihipi's eight-second effort in Super Round, Fine Inisi's long-range effort in the first 30 seconds helped silence the 'Sea of Blue' early at HBF Park.

It showed what they are capable of at their best, with the likes of Inisi, Danny Toala and Timoci Tavatavanawai threatening whenever they touched the ball

5. Valuable momentum

The victory for the Force provides them with crucial confidence ahead of a difficult Kiwi road trip.

They will head to NZ to face the Highlanders, Blues and Hurricanes before returning home to several back-ended home games.

A win like this gives them the belief they can knock off a Highlanders outfit low on confidence after three early defeats, giving the perfect gauge as to where the Force sits compared to its finals rivals.

If they can return home with at least one victory and a couple of bonus points at a minimum, it'll lay the perfect platform to attack the second half of the season with four of their last six at HBF Park.