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Super Rugby: Western Force beat Reds 30-20 to keep play-off hopes alive
A late try from hooker Nathan Charles helped the Western Force to a 30-20 win over the Reds to keep alive their Super Rugby play-off hopes.
Nick Cummins scored a try and had a hand in another as the Force raced into a 17-3 lead, but the Reds fought back to tie the match at 20-20 with 12 minutes to play.
But Charles scored the decisive touchdown with six minutes remaining to win the game, with Jayden Hayward converting and also kicking a penalty.
The win sees the Force move into seventh place with one round remaining as they seek to make the play-offs for the first time in their history.
Cummins put the Force on the front foot with a thumping hit from the kick-off. Ian Prior set the winger up to bulldoze Rod Davies and crash over in the corner, Hayward landing a super conversion.
Hayward slotted a penalty and then limp defence from James Slipper allowed Chris Tuatara-Morrison to scythe through the Reds midfield and set Cummins powering up the touchline again, the winger's inside ball finding the industrious Sam Wykes, who fed Ben McCalman to rumble over.
Hayward was on target with the conversion once again, and the Force dominated the rest of the half, aided in no small part by error after error from their opponents.
Hugh McMenamin was sin-binned for a brainless knee-drop on Ben Lucas that set the tone for a number of niggly off the ball exchanges, but it appeared to make little difference to the flow of the game, with almost all the rugby being played in the Reds half.
As the interval loomed, however, Samu Kerevi launched the visitors' first meaningful attack with a power-laden midfield bust, and from the resultant penalty and lineout, the youngster stepped inside an awful Charles tackle to touch down on his run-on debut.
For all their mistakes, and all the Force's monopoly on possession and territory, the Reds went into the changing room still in touch at 17-10 thanks to Mike Harris' conversion, adding to his earlier penalty.
After the break, Hayward sent two straightforward penalties wide of the poles to enable the Reds to stay within a score of the Force.
But the full-back finally found his range to give the hosts a crucial two-score cushion. However, the Reds hit back when a rolling maul gathered pace and purpose as the hour mark approached and Albert Anae was the man in possession as the pack trundled over the line, the try converted brilliantly by Harris to cut the gap to three.
The visitors then drew level, the Force going off their feet in the shadow of their own posts, with Harris knocking over the resultant penalty.
But the Force hit back. First Hayward held his nerve to put the the hosts in front with a penalty and then Charles, at fault for Kerevi's try, capped a brilliant breakout with a 30-metre dash to the line off Dane Haylett-Petty's inside ball.
The full-back converted again, and the Reds - who have now gone five straight games against their Perth rivals without victory - finished strongly to prevent the Force bagging a bonus-point and leapfrogging the Brumbies atop the Australian Conference.