Force shock 'Tahs in Sydney
Sydney - The Waratahs got off to a losing start in their Super Rugby title defence going down 25-13 to the Force in Sydney on Sunday.
The Waratahs, who beat the Crusaders for their maiden Super Rugby championship last season, were lethargic and error-prone as the Force pulled off a bonus-point victory for their third win in Sydney.
The Force, who narrowly missed out on last season's playoffs, scored four tries to two with their South African goalkicking fly-half Sias Ebersohn landing only one conversion and a penalty from seven shots.
It was a lacklustre effort from the Waratahs, who trailed 8-3 at half-time and conceded some soft tries in the second half to get their season off to a shaky start.
The Force scored tries through Chris Alcock, Angus Cottrell, Luke Morahan and Francois van Wyk, while Wallaby wing Rob Horne scored a try double for the Waratahs.
The Force scored their opening try just before half-time when former Waratah flanker Alcock barrelled over the line in a pushover try from a lineout win.
Fullback Dane Haylett-Petty was held up over the Waratahs in-goal before blindside flanker Cottrell crashed through two poor tackles to score under the crossbar six minutes after half-time for a 15-3 lead.
Horne scored the first of his two tries in the absence of sin-binned Alby Mathewson, but the Kiwi scrum-half atoned with a smart-thinking kick downfield with no one at home for winger Morahan to score.
The Perth-based side grabbed the bonus point when replacement prop van Wyk charged down Kurtley Beale's risky chip kick inside his own quarter to gallop over.
Horne grabbed his second try with three minutes left and the Waratahs went after a losing bonus point but time beat them.
"It wasn't pretty with our set-piece but we just fought our way out of it and we just stayed on the whole game, the boys were outstanding," Force skipper Sam Wykes said.
"We want to go one better than last year and we have performance goals along the way that we need to tick off and we have a hard game next week against the Queensland Reds."
Waratahs captain Dave Dennis said his team had let themselves down with a welter of mistakes.
"I thought the preparation and attitude was good, but we just let ourselves down with simple mistakes and turnovers in the game, it was disappointing," Dennis said.
"We are a work in progress, we didn't want a start like that and we've got a bit of work ahead of us now."
Waratahs: 15 - Tries: Rob Horne (2); Penalty: Foley.
Force: 25 - Tries: Chris Alcock, Angus Cottrell, Luke Morahan, Francois van Wyk; Conversion: Sias Ebersohn; Penalty: Ebersohn.
Referee: Steve Walsh (AUS)
15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dave Dennis (captain), 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Substitutes: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Mitchell Chapman, 21 Stephan Hoiles, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Matt Carraro
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Solomoni Jnr Rasolea, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Wykes (captain), 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2. Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan
Substitutes: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Luke Burton