TIMES LIVE: SOUTHERN KINGS NARROWLY GO DOWN TO FORCE IN EMOTIONAL DAY IN PERTH
The Western Force put aside their impending demise to beat the Southern Kings in a rollicking Super Rugby clash in Perth on Sunday.
With the two sides expected to learn immediately after the match that they would be dropped from the competition by SANZAAR, they put on a freewheeling display of attacking rugby to run in 12 tries.
Nine of those came in an extraordinary second half where defence went out the window.
If both teams had the weight of the Super Rugby world on their shoulders they didn’t show it and the Kings looked set for victory when they ran in two tries in three minutes for a 35-28 lead after 64 minutes.
However, the Force then piled on three tries of their own in 10 minutes, the third a penalty try, to snatch the win on an emotional day.
Up 15-7 at the break the Force conceded two tries, to Yaw Penxe and Malcom Jaer, in the first three minutes after the resumption.
They steadied to lead 25-24, but lost their way when Kings skipper Lionel Cronje bamboozled them with a sleight of hand in the 62nd minute and set up an easy try for Penxe with a chip kick.
Two minutes later Penxe picked off a pass and skipped over a lunging tackle to burst away to notch his first ever Super Rugby hat-trick of tries to give his charging side a 38-25 advantage.
However, just 60 seconds later, the Force’s Alex Newsome charged down a Kings kick and ran onto the rebound for a try.
A controversial penalty try for a scrum below the posts handed the Force back the lead.
Ben McCalman then pushed over in the 75th minute to break the Kings as their lead was extended to eight points.
Governing body SANZAAR on Sunday announced that two South African teams and one from Australia will be axed from the 2018 Super Rugby competition.
SANZAAR said the two countries’ national rugby unions would decide on the teams to be cut, but the Force and the Kings are widely regarded as the most vulnerable franchises.
The Force entered the competition in 2006, while the Kings were included in 2013.