Western Force coach Tim Samson needs to give players a big shake-up after a disastrous first 60 minutes of Sunday’s 22-17 Super Rugby Pacific loss to the Waratahs.
A frustrated Sampson admitted they lacked enthusiasm and energy in the first hour when too much damage was done to let them back into the game.
They cannot afford a similar display on Saturday against Fijian Drua who came close to causing one of the great Super Rugby boilovers against the Queensland Reds, finally going down 33-28 after a massive fight-back.
The Force took an early seven-point lead at Leichhardt Oval but then leaked 22 unanswered points before the break.
They were the only side to score in the second-half, a second converted try and an after-the-siren penalty giving them a crucial losing bonus point to cling onto the eighth finals spot.
But the damage was already done and Sampson wasted no words after the defeat.
“Everyone has to take responsibility. It was a pretty average 60 minutes,” Sampson said.
“We misfired. We had no energy or enthusiasm.
“It was all our own doing, ill-discipline, set-piece, missed kicks to touch, not exiting our own half, simple execution and fundamentals let us down.
“When you get into a rut like we did you have to work your way out of it.
“In the last 15 minutes we played with the desperation that we should have played with the whole game.
“We have to stay tight, stay together and get ready for Fiji.”
After a lively start the Force took the lead with a Manasa Mataele try converted by Byron Ralston – but then it all went pear-shaped.
Waratahs flanker Charlie Gamble was on the end of a line-out rolling maul and Will Harrison kicked four penalties before finishing off a nice handling move in the corner as the Force struggled to get out of their own half.
Force reserve prop Harry Lloyd finally got over for a second try late in the game and Ian Prior’s conversion and late penalty closed the gap.
After going behind, the Waratahs stepped up at the breakdown, were effective in their counter-rucking.
They had options either side of the ruck and time and space allowed them to line up line bending attacks.
The penalty count hurt the Force.
They gave away eight in the first half and another seven after the break as they played catch-up rugby.
The Waratahs had an overwhelming 70 per cent possession in the first period and forced the visitors into twice as many tackles.
The Force copped a double scrum blow before the break with injured loosehead prop Tom Robertson replaced by Lloyd and then captain and hooker Feleti Kaitu’u sin-binned.
Western Force women almost caused a huge Super Rugby boilover in a bruising 31-14 loss to four-time Super W champions Waratahs.
They produced a mammoth defensive effort to hold the Waratahs to 14-14 for more than an hour.
But the Waratahs scored three late tries, two while the Force were reduced to 14 players, and the third coming after the siren.