Western Force coach Simon Cron says his side have a clear focus on the Super Rugby Pacific finals after they jumped into eighth spot with their 34-14 win over Fijian Drua.
The Force kept the Fijians scoreless in an impressive second-half performance on Friday to grab a crucial bonus point win and keep their four-from-four unbeaten home record at HBF Park.
It was a must-win game for the Force with three rounds remaining and Cron said: “The boys are punching, don’t worry about that. We’ll keep throwing.”
Cron was particularly pleased with the second period, describing it as a “good zero-point mentality”.
The Force took a 12-point lead after just eight minutes with tries from winger Manasa Mataele and Wallabies hooker Folau Fainga’a and a conversion from Max Burey.
But they slipped behind with Eroni Sau and Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta scoring converted tries as the Fijians laid assault to the Force line.
Burey gave his side a slender one-point lead with a penalty after the half-time siren.
But they kept the Drua pointless after the break and second rower Jeremy Williams, Fainga’a with a second and homegrown flanker Carlo Tizzano with his first Super try on his first game back at home sealed the victory.
Force captain and back-rower Michael Wells said the side became “bored” with what they were doing well as the Drua got back into the game.
“We let them (Drua) back in. We presented opportunities,” Wells said. “We missed one-up tackles, gave them penalties so they could march down the field.
“We got away from what we were doing well. In fact, we probably got a little bit bored with it.
“We got back to it second-half and closed it out.
“We needed to take away opportunities and a lot of that was on our forwards. We challenged our forwards this week. It was on us.”
Cron said the return of Fainga’a from injury brought a calmness to the team.
“He can fix on the run so if something doesn’t quite go right he’ll talk to the people around him and fix that,” Cron said.
Cron praised playmaker Burey, in just his second Super Rugby game, after being clutched from Sydney’s Northern Suburbs club in the Force injury crisis.
“Max spent the whole pre-season with us, he flew back to Sydney for a couple of games, then came back to us,” Cron said.
“He’s a guy who has worked really, really hard in the pre-season. He’s a student of the game, does all his homework, does his all study, sits with us as coaches and works through what he needs to do.
“He sat with Finesy (scrum-half Issak Fines) earlier in the week and talked about what the two of them can be better at together. Credit to him.”