A vintage effort from five-eighth Matt Giteau in his penultimate game for the Western Force wasn’t enough to maintain their Super 14 finals hopes as they slipped to a 25-24 loss to the lowly Stormers in Cape Town.
Rugbyheaven Aus reports that the Force picked up a bonus point for a narrow loss but defeat left them six points adrift of the fourth-placed Crusaders heading into next weekend’s last-round clash with the Highlanders.
Giteau, who will return to the Brumbies next season, scored 19 points, including two of his team’s three tries.
Desperate for a bonus point win to keep their season alive, the West Australians were guilty of pushing passes and making mistakes.
They secured plenty of territory and possession, but most of their attacks broke down due to poor execution.
Down 12-0 early and 15-7 at halftime, the Force hit back to lead 17-15 after Giteau converted his first try in the 62nd minute.
The Stormers regained the lead with a penalty to five-eighth Willem de Waal but the match turned decisively in the following five minutes.
Force flanker David Pocock had a try rubbed out after the television match official deemed he put a foot in touch.
Within two minutes the Stormers opened up a 25-17 lead with a converted try to fullback Jo Pietersen, his second of the game, despite Force centre Ryan Cross appearing to be obstructed in the buildup.
The Force got within one point with five to go after Giteau converted his second try, but the visitors couldn’t find the extra score to keep their season alive.
The visitors had made the worst possible start, with exciting fullback Pietersen scoring a chip and chase try in the second minute.
The home side opened up a 12-0 lead when de Waal converted his 17th minute try after he zipped between Giteau and winger Scott Staniforth following a lineout.
STORMERS 25 (Joe Pietersen 2, Willem de Waal tries de Waal, Peter Grant cons de Waal 2 pens)
WESTERN FORCE 24 (Matt Giteau 2, James O’Connor tries Giteau 3 cons pen)