Western Force coach Michael Foley is proud of his team’s fight after going down 20-19 to the Crusaders despite losing key players to injury on Friday night.
The Force did well limiting the Crusaders to two tries until the 78th minute, even after some crucial scrum losses and losing 17 of the first 18 lineouts.
The Force also lost scrumhalf Alby Mathewson to illness prior to kick off, his replacement Ian Prior hurt a knee, prop Pek Cowan injured an arm and hooker Nathan Charles dislocated a shoulder.
They still led 19-13 with two minutes remaining before the Crusaders’ possession and territory dominance was rewarded with a converted match-winning try to Jordan Taufua.
The Force enter next week’s bye on a five-game losing streak but Foley believes the group is showing improvement and is hoping the injuries aren’t too serious.
“Pek’s going to go off for an x-ray. Ian will have to get a medical exam but we’re quite hopeful that’s not too serious and Nathan is probably the most concerning of the lot but we’ll know a lot more in the next 24 hours,” Foley said.
“We definitely had some disruptions, but I just think the difference in the squad this year is that we just don’t flinch at those things or overthink about those things.
“We just expect the guys to step in and do the job, and guys have really performed when we’ve asked them to.”
While the Force’s inability to win possession from scrums late or lineouts all game cost them, the Crusaders’ dominance in those areas helped overcome an uncharacteristically poor night holding onto the ball.
They have won five straight, including the last three on the road, before returning home to host the Jaguares next week.