Western Force fell out of the National Rugby Championship with a 45-24 loss in the sudden death semi-final against reigning premiers Queensland Country on the Gold Coast on Sunday.
In a below par performance they could not recover from a poor start when two players were sent to the sin bin.
Appalling conditions helped seal their fate when the game was stopped for 10 minutes in the second -half for player safety because of an electric storm and lightning.
The Force lived off scraps early and were barely in the opposition half. At one point they had spent 98 per cent of the game in their own half.
They made too many uncharacteristic errors and their line-out misfired at crucial times.
Somehow they were still in the game at the break, behind by six points, and they closed the gap to just three early in the second half but could not overtake the home side.
They were outscored seven tries to three and the margin could have been greater if Queensland fly-half Hamish Stewart had not missed five conversions.
The torrential rain that came with the storm soaked the Bond University ground in the second half and brought a kicking and territory game into play for both sides with handling difficult.
Coach Tim Sampson said the side had nor performed when it mattered most.
“The opening 20 minutes we had everything go against us,” Sampson said.
“We were on the wrong end of the penalty count, the yellow cards that I don’t understand. I thought we were hard done by there.
“Something that has been a strength of ours this year has been the line-outs The didn’t function too well.
“We are the best side in NRC when it comes to discipline yet we were on the wrong side of the penalty count. Pretty frustrating.
“We didn’t perform any near where we needed to perform.
“I’m certainly proud of these guys and of what we’ve achieved this year, for a team that only came together in April.
“Proud is not something I say often. It’s a word that’s thrown around too loosely.
“This is only the start for us. We’ll have a short break and then we’ll get into out pre-season. We’re really excited about what next year brings.”
Force winger Rod Davies was yellow-carded on seven minutes and full-back Jack McGregor followed shortly after while the officials failed to penalise the home side for several rucks infringements.
Queensland scored four first tries in the first period but Stewart failed with every attempted conversion.
Centre Jordan Petaia raced over in the right hand corner for the first before No.8 Caleb Timu and Petaia again both took advantage of the two man advantage to cross in the same spot.
Back to their full complement, centre Brad Lacey sliced through with Prior converting but the Queensland reply was swift with Chris Feauai-Sautia scoring almost immediately.
The Force went to their strength just before the break with a much-needed try from hooker Heath Tessmann on the back of a rolling maul. Prior converted.
Prior added a penalty early after the break to close the gap but prop Harry Hoopert smashed his way over after another poor Force line-out and Stewart finally kicked successfully.
After the storm delay Force prop Harrison Lloyd got over and Prior converted but a James Kibble try pushed the lead back out to eight points before Stewart put over two penalties. Flanker Angus Scott-Young iced the win with a try on the final siren. Stewart converted.