Force is still alive in the SRP final race to return to victory against the Hurricanes

Western Force Super Rugby has moved into the top eight of the Pacific with a 27-22 home win against the Hurricanes but could still lose its place in the final.

The successful transition proved decisive in the 74th minute when Bayron Ralston tried to center and the force trailed 22-20.

Saturday night’s victory lifted the Force to eighth, but the ninth-ranked Highlanders fell to Melbourne and lost that spot even if they gained a bonus point in Sunday’s distant clash with the rebels.

It was Force’s first home win of the season.

The eighth-seeded team – either Force or Highlanders – will play the ladder-leading blues in Auckland in next week’s sudden death quarterfinals.

They need to win the final round to continue their season, with the force trailing by 11 points just before halftime.

But they showed a huge heart against the Hurricanes bound in the final, who scored 17 points straight in the first half.

The Hurricanes made four attempts in three, with their great fullback Josh Murby crossing five pointers in the first half.

It was a thrilling Final Force game for Perth coach Tim Sampson – who will be replaced by Simon Kron – and retired players Richard Cahui, Jeremy Thrush and Greg Holmes.

Center Kahui was forced off the field with a head knock in the fifth minute and did not return when team-mate former All Black and Lock Thrash sinned for an ugly act early in the game.

Captain and halfback Ian Pryor led the home side 6-0 with two penalty kicks in his 100th game for the Force.

Murabi showed great footwork to avoid four tackles in his first attempt and backed up well to score the second, before No. 8 Braden Ios showed great speed to run about 40 meters to round off a sweeping cross-field move.

Down at 17-6, Force returned to the game just before halftime when Argentine prop Santiago Medrano broke his path and reduced the deficit to four points at Prior’s conversion break.

The Hurricanes were a small one within the first minute of the second half, with winger Celsi Raisi deliberately knocked out for a knock.

Force chose the lineup twice without a shot in the next five minutes and paying the tactic a second time, hooker Andrew Reddy crashed from a rolling mall.

Pryor’s conversion gave the Force a 20-17 lead but a nice cut-out pass from Murabi set Raisi up for an attempt that gave the Hurricanes two points just before the hour.

They made one more attempt to knock on, but the force held on and came back to make the decisive score.


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