Cummins hat-trick leads Force past Waratahs
A stunning three-try effort by Nick Cummins has seen the Western Force stun the Israel Folau-less NSW Waratahs with a 28-16 victory at Perth's nib Stadium on Saturday night.
The Force continue to make history in a surprise run this Super Rugby season after losing the opening two games.
They have now won five straight matches; Saturday night's victory over the Waratahs in Perth their first over the NSW side and in front of a much-improved crowd of 14,281.
The win sees them jump into second spot in the Australian conference.
Despite coming into the game on the high of beating the Stormers in Cape Town, the Waratahs were rocked on Friday when the ARU decided to pull star back Folau from the team despite already being cleared by their own medical staff to return from a throat injury.
The Waratahs got the game's first score through a penalty just inside halfway from Kurtley Beale in the ninth minute, repeating the dose to make it 6-0 just two minutes later.
After the Force steadied through a penalty, Cummins intercepted a pass from Nick Phipps and ran almost the length of the field to score a try to the delight of the screaming home fans.
Sias Ebersohn converted for the Force to lead 10-6 after 27 minutes and then the two teams traded penalties with the home side leading 13-9 at halftime.
Early in the second half a try was initially awarded to the Waratahs' right winger Cam Crawford but was ultimately denied when it was ruled that his teammate Jono Lance had obstructed the Force's Alby Mathewson from making a tackle.
If the Waratahs were disappointed in that, they were even more so just minutes later when Cummins crossed for his second try of the night.
Mathewson did some great work setting up Cummins who then got the glory by crossing out wide.
The Force had lost Sam Wykes (shoulder) and Mathewson (shin) by the 55-minute mark with the Waratahs pressing, but another stunning effort from Cummins closed the door on them.
The Waratahs answered right back with a try in the corner to Beale and the Bernard Foley conversion cut the Force's lead to 25-16, but that was as close as they would get.
While the Waratahs lost Folau, the Force also lost fullback Jayden Hayward before kick-off and coach Michael Foley couldn't have been more proud of the heroic effort of his team particularly on defence.
"Dane Haylett-Petty played 60 minutes of club football today and arrived an hour before the game, and then played 75 minutes of Super Rugby. Nathan Charles plays himself into a standstill and collapses on the sidelines," Foley said.
"We had a lot of heroes out there and we have now gone past what we did last year, which is nice, and we have a really big challenge in six days against the Rebels. That's a significant challenge on the back of what was Test match intensity out there."
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika wasn't going to let the loss of Folau be any excuse but has no idea if he will be available next weekend against the Bulls in Sydney.
"In relation to (the late withdrawal of) Folau, obviously it's slightly disrupting when you have trained someone in one position, but we still played a lot of good footy without him being there and had plenty of opportunities to finish off scores."
Western Force 28 (Nick Cummins 3 tries; Sias Ebersohn 2 cons 3 pens) NSW Waratahs 16 (Kurtley Beale try; Bernard Foley con, pen; Beale 2 pens) at nib Stadium. Referee: Angus Gardner. Crowd: 14,281