The Western Force have virtually kissed good-bye to their Super 14 finals hopes and will consider building towards 2009 after their 29-12 upset loss to Queensland.
Jim Morton writes for the AAP that Force coach John Mitchell and skipper Nathan Sharpe were fuming after the three-tries-to-nil defeat, easily their worst performance of the year, which has left their play-off chances hanging by a thread.
Mitchell intimated his side was now out of contention for the final four and was prepared to make some big decisions during their upcoming bye week.
“We never fired a shot. We looked like a team that was ready for a bye,” he said.
“We deserved to be criticised. Our performance was unacceptable considering the quality of football that at times has been refreshing as a group, but for some reason it was a reflection tonight of not putting in.
“The Reds deserved their win and probably should have won by more to be totally fair.”
The wavering Force, clearly missing injured spearhead Matt Giteau, now sit seventh in the competition and will slip back down the table further after next weekend’s bye.
“Clearly we have got to readdress and redirect in some areas and we have to readdress our goals moving forward and I even may have to consider building for next year’s season based on some of the things we are seeing,” Mitchell said.
Rubbing salt into the Force’s wounds, back-rower Tamaiti Horua (knee) and winger Haig Sare (ankle) sustained suspected season-ending injuries in the deflating loss.
Queensland, without a win over an Australian opponent in two years, paved the way for the boilover with a knockout victory up front to set up camp in the visitors’ quarter for virtually the entire second half at Suncorp Stadium.
Former Reds winger Drew Mitchell gave his old team plenty of motivation by saying pre-match the Force would run over the top of the home side after Queensland’s traditional “15 minutes of macho bravado”.
“It’s always interesting when it’s a winger with streaked hair saying that after 15 minutes of fury they (the Reds forwards) would run out of puff, you tend to take it more seriously when it’s a forward saying that,” said Queensland coach Phil Mooney.
“I don’t think we are being given the respect we deserve.”
Mooney had asked his battlers to become the spoilers of the Super 14 after being knocked out of finals contention during a fruitless tour of South Africa and they responded to a man.
The execution was scrappy but they were far more enthusiastic and committed than the off-key visitors, who couldn’t find a kicker to clear it out of their own territory in the second half.
The Force set the scene from the kick-off, a scrappy pass from Chris O’Young resulting in a skewed clearance kick by Drew Mitchell for a Reds lineout on the tryline.
Powerhouse No.8 Leroy Houston then drove over off the back of a maul for a try awarded after the television match official had several looks at the replay.
The visitors enjoyed 66 per cent of the possession in the opening half and fullback Cameron Shepherd tore the defence to ribbons with each touch but they could only close the gap to 13-12 at half-time through Shepherd’s radar-like boot.
With the Reds scrum demolishing the Force pack, Queensland then shut them out in the second half as they enjoyed three-quarters of territory and the ball.
Tries to seasoned imports Morgan Turinui, enjoying his best game in the Reds jersey, and Andrew Walker, his 32nd in Super rugby but first for Queensland, were the icing on the cake in the second half.
Sharpe didn’t mince words after the game.
“It was a terrible performance by our boys but we have to give credit to Queensland, they contested the breakdown much harder,” he said.
“There was no excuse, we just didn’t turn up mentally.”Tweet