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Super Rugby: Waratahs just about in touch after Force victory
The Waratahs are still in the chase for a Super Rugby play-off spot after beating Australian rivals Western Force 28-13 in Perth on Sunday.
The visiting Waratahs had 16 players missing from their squad due to call-ups to the Australian squad for the Lions tour and also injuries.
However, three first half tries from Oliver Atkins, Cam Crawford and Tom Kingston were enough to give them the points despite a strong second half fightback from the Force.
Prop Pek Cowan crossed for the Force in the first half as they trailed 22-8 at the break, and despite Kyle Godwin grabbing the only try of the second half they could not find a way back into the contest.
The loss will only add to the criticism directed at the Force and their coach Michael Foley after fielding a weakened side against the British and Irish Lions on Wednesday.
The scoring actually began though with the hosts, Jayden Hayward converting a penalty on what would prove to be a torrid afternoon for the Force full-back - his only successful kick at goal from four attempts.
A successful series of phases from the Waratahs then culminated in lock Oliie Atkins scoring his first try on debut, powering under the Force defence as the visitors easily maintained possession early on.
Cam Crawford's burst down the right touchline after good work from Drew Mitchell then underlined the visitors' dominant start - 14-3 up after just ten minutes and cruising, with Brendan McKibbin fading in an impressive conversion from the touchline.
A penalty from McKibbin stretched the lead for the Waratahs but the Force rallied, stand-in captain Pek Cowan powering his way over the line after the hosts disrupted a defending scrum five metres out from the try line.
It was a glimmer of hope that was snuffed out five minutes later when Tom Kingston scored the Waratahs' third try, doing well to control a ricocheting ball in his arms to make contact with the line and put the Waratahs 22-8 up - a score that remained unchanged until the interval despite heavy pressure and territory from the Force inside the visitors' 22, a series of driving lineouts failing to bear fruit.
A considerable improvement in defence made the Force more competitive after the interval as they chased the game, but it took them more than 20 minutes to make an impression on the scoreboard when Kyle Godwin glided over following Sias Ebersohn's break.
Two penalties, one from McKibbin and the second by fly-half Bernard Foley, wrapped up the result for the Waratahs who now move up to seventh in the Super Rugby table, whilst the Force remain rooted to the bottom of the Australia Conference.