MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Flyhalf James O’Connor kicked a late drop-goal to secure the Queensland Reds a 31-24 win over Western Force at Lang Park on Friday in the Super Rugby AU competition.
After the Reds spent 12 phases bashing away at the Force line in search of a sealing try, Wallaby O’Connor took the more direct route for points in the 78th minute.
O’Connor’s score opened the door for the Force to push for a converted try and a chance to claim the win in extra time.
But a bone-jarring tackle dislodged the ball from Force lock Jeremy Thrush as he barged forward in attack to give the home side the points and an unbeaten start after three rounds.
The Force, back playing against Australia’s top professional sides three years after being axed from Super Rugby, lost their second successive match but had their opponents on the back foot for much of the night.
The Force flew out of the blocks with tries from Jack McGregor and Byron Ralston in a three-minute burst before the Reds took control with a three-try blitz from Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Jock Campbell and Taniela Tupou.
Ralston kept the Force in touch with a try two minutes before halftime but livewire winger Filipo Daugunu answered with another four minutes after the break.
A dominant line-out drive by the Force led to Andrew Ready rumbling over the line at the back of a rolling maul. However, former Queensland Red Jono Lance struck the post with his conversion attempt, giving the home side breathing space before O’Connor’s late score.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Christian Radnedge