A hat-trick by the “honey-badger”, Nick Cummins, against the run of play was enough to give the Western Force an historic first-ever win in Perth over the Waratahs, winning 28-16 in their Vodacom Super Rugby match on Saturday.
Cummins scored the first ever hat-trick in the Western Force’s history as they soaked up all the pressure, but scored when it mattered to set another record – this time five consecutive wins, the most ever for the young franchise.
The influx of South Africans mixed into the Australian franchise has done wonders this season as they put in a superb defensive effort, and were on the wrong side of most stats, but led for a large part of the game as they capitalised off the Waratahs' mistakes.
If the Force win next week, they can top the Australian conference, a remarkable turnaround for a side which used to occupy the bottom half of the table.
And in this game the stats certainly showed how great the defensive effort was, as the Waratahs had three times as many ball carries as the home side, made double the metres and only had to make a third of the tackles that the Force had to in the game.
But it was these 157 tackles that the Force made that did the damage, as they came back from 6-0 down to lead to the end of the game and win comfortably in the end.
Kurtley Beale’s two long range efforts put the Waratahs ahead, but then it was Cummins who stole the show as on his own tryline he engineered a masterful intercept and ran the length of the field to score.
Sias Ebersohn kept the scoreboard ticking over, so much so that the home side led 13-9 going into the break and then made their defensive effort count as they scored twice off turnovers.
First Alby Matthewson grabbed a loose ball and scooted downfield, offloading to Cummins to score the try in the corner, and then after a dropped pass, Cummins picked up the ball on his own 22 metre area again, was stopped just short of the line by a desperate tackle, managed to pick the ball up again and score for his hat-trick.
In between Cam Crawford scored for the Waratahs, but the try was disallowed as a dummy runner had taken out the nearest defender in Matthewson.
Beale managed to get one back late in the game after Bernard Foley streaked down the near touchline before sending Beale away. The Wallaby had defenders on him, but he managed to create enough hesitation, with his goose-step, to outstrip the defence and score.
Ebersohn hit the final nail in the Waratahs' coffin with a late penalty and the home side celebrated a night of records as their magical season continues.
Western Force - Tries: Nick Cummins(3). Conversion: Sias Ebersohn(2). Penalties: Sias Ebersohn(2).
Waratahs - Try: Kurtley Beale. Conversion: Bernard Foley. Penalties: Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley