Ashley-Cooper celebrates milestone in style
Reuters
March 31, 2013

Adam Ashley-Cooper celebrated his 100th Vodacom Super Rugby game with a try that helped the Waratahs to a 23-19 win over the Western Force in a turgid encounter in Sydney on Sunday.

The versatile Cooper, who had made 78 appearances for the Canberra-based Brumbies before moving to New South Wales in 2012, scored in the 46th minute of the match that was stop-start with neither side able to develop any continuity.

Both teams were also heavily penalised, particularly at the breakdown, by referee Steve Walsh, which lead to Waratahs scrumhalf Brendan McKibbin slotting six penalties, while Force flyhalf Sias Ebersohn kicked four.

"It was tough, we made it hard on ourselves," Waratahs captain Dave Dennis said in a pitchside interview. "We didn't perform how we wanted to in some areas."

"There wasn't a lot between us ... but we have got the points and it worked out well."

The Force actually started with purpose, stringing phases together and driving down the field to go out to a 6-0 lead courtesy of two penalties from Ebersohn.

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The Waratahs, however, slowly built back into the game with McKibbin slotting two penalties as the home side began to throw the ball wider and build phases themselves.

Force prop Salesi Ma'afu was then sinbinned for a high tackle on Waratahs' hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau about 20 minutes into the first half, which allowed McKibbin to slot three more penalties.

Ebersohn managed to reduce the gap just before the break to go into halftime trailing 15-9.

McKibbin slotted his fourth penalty of the game just a minute after the restart before Ashley-Cooper finished off a break from Israel Folau to give the home side a seemingly-comfortable 23-9 lead.

Force fullback Alfie Mafi, however, dragged his side back into the game when the Perth-based side managed to string more than three phases together and Ebersohn converted and added his fourth penalty to make the last 20 minutes close.

Waratahs prop Benn Robinson, who was also celebrating his 100th Super Rugby game, however fittingly provided the coup de grace when he snaffled the ball at a turnover after the fulltime hooter sounded and the Waratahs kicked the ball into touch.

SCORERS

Waratahs – Try: Adam Ashley-Cooper. Penalties: Brendan McKibbin (6).
Force– Try: Alifeleti (Alfi) Mafi. Conversion: Sias Ebersohn. Penalties: Sias Ebersohn (3).