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Force stun Reds 19-12 in Super Rugby
Jim Morton
23:08 AEST Sat Mar 16 2013

A gutsy Western Force produced their best win in 12 months with a huge Super Rugby upset over the Queensland Reds on Saturday night in Brisbane.

While all eyes were on Wallabies halfback Will Genia making his injury comeback, it was another No.9, former All Black Alby Mathewson, who starred in a 19-12 triumph at Suncorp Stadium.

Mathewson set up the only try and almost handed another on a plate as the Force celebrated their first win in Brisbane in six attempts.

Not since the Perth franchise smashed the Reds 45-19 almost a year ago to the day, has the Force delivered a better 80-minute team performance.

They were $7.50 underdogs but, in the end, deserved to win by more as they were hungrier in defence and more accurate in attack than Queensland, who were shut out in the second half.

Queensland-raised forwards Hugh McMeniman, Angus Cotterell and Richard Brown all played key roles against a tiring Reds pack.

"We're bitterly disappointed with the performance," said Genia.

"Too many errors, too many times running into touch and too many poor passes ... it wasn't acceptable."

Genia's halves partner Quade Cooper was guilty of many of the wayward passes and was fortunate not to have given up a chargedown try to Chris Alcock in the first half.

It was the blistering pace of Chris Feauai-Sautia who saved the day.

Despite that, the Force still took a surprise 13-12 halftime lead but would have been further ahead if not for the goalkicking of Cooper, who slotted four penalties, and turnovers forced by flanker Liam Gill.

Queensland too often kicked away possession when they had overlaps in their own half and let the visitors make the play.

The visitors took a 13-9 lead in the 32nd minute when Mathewson broke from the fringes of the lineout, brushing off Saia Faingaa on the way, before putting winger Alfi Mafi over in the left corner.

Genia looked sharp for Queensland in his 40-minute comeback from a knee reconstruction and almost ran down Mafi to stop the try.

While the Reds were held tryless for only the third time at Suncorp Stadium, Mathewson almost set up a second try to Junior Rasolea but his long-range break and chip was snuffed by a tiny fumble before the reserve back dived over.

Queensland were forced into a late change when Anthony Faingaa succumbed to a back injury and Mike Harris was the surprise starter at outside centre.

The Reds could take credit for keeping their line intact in the second half, at one point snuffing out a 16-phase assault by the Force just after sin-binned flanker Ed Quirk (shoulder charge) returned to the field.

But then a dubious scrum penalty against them on their feed allowed Sias Ebersohn to kick the visitors seven points clear with 11 minutes left in front of a stunned crowd of 26,709.

For Force coach Michael Foley it was a cherished victory, ending an 11-match personal losing streak dating back to last year with the NSW Waratahs.

But Foley was quick to deflect all the praise and attention on to the character, unity and work ethic of his players, as well as the faith of long-time club contributors.

"I think we're developing a very strong belief in each other," Foley said.

"I think (the win) is great reward for hard work."

Queensland's forward stocks were stretched following a head knock and gash to lock Rob Simmons, but Reds coaching boss Ewen McKenzie offered no excuses.

"They (the Force) played well, you have to give them credit," McKenzie said. "They were desperate and determined and through our own errors we didn't match them, so it was disappointing from that sense."

McKenzie defended Cooper, saying his whole team is failing to fire, while Genia admitted the Reds do feel out of tune.

"There is frustration," the Wallabies halfback said. "We feel like we're just struggling to find a bit of rhythm in our game and attack and if you look at specifically this game it's just the breakdown.

"They were able to get in there and slow us down at crucial times."


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