Sharpe missing as Force lose to Blues
Western Force stalwart Nathan Sharpe may have played his last Super Rugby game after injuring his back prior to the club’s 32-9 loss to the Blues in Auckland on Saturday night.
Sharpe was left bed-ridden after his back locked up badly just hours before the clash at Eden Park, forcing him to miss the four-tries-to-nil defeat.
The 34-year-old has already announced he will retire at season’s end, and is facing a race against time to be fit for next Saturday’s final match of the year against the Crusaders in New Zealand.
Sharpe has played a competition-record 161 games and will be desperate to get up for his farewell Force match before embarking on his final fling with the Wallabies.
“We have to try to do whatever we can to try to get him up for next week’s game,” Force coach Phil Blake said.
“That’s going to be a hard task.
“We’re hopeful we can get him to the line, but we won’t know until later in the week. He’s literally bed-bound. He can’t move.
“He’s in good hands in the doctor. If he can get to the starting line, he’ll certainly get himself there.”
Sharpe’s back problem wasn’t the only injury concern for the Force, who lost inside centre Winston Stanley to a dislocated shoulder during the second half.
Stanley has already been ruled out of the Crusaders clash and will fly back to Perth to receive treatment.
The Force, already without star back row trio Matt Hodgson, David Pocock and Ben McCalman, trailed the Blues by just 13-9 at halftime.
From there it was all one-way traffic as the Blues notched 19 unanswered points in the second half to secure the bonus-point victory.
All Blacks centre Ma’a Nonu notched his 100th first-class try in the rout, while flanker Steven Luatua, fullback Charles Piutau and No.7 Luke Braid also crossed for the Blues.
Force five-eighth Ben Seymour nailed three first-half penalties, but the visitors failed to add to that after halftime.
The Blues’ win lifted them above the Force into 13th spot on the table, with both teams now possessing 3-12 records.
Blake said he was happy with the Force’s effort despite the heavy loss.
“I thought there was a lot to like about the performance from our side,” Blake said.
“If we could have converted field position into one or two tries and put scoreboard pressure on them, I think we could have taken them all the way to the wire.
“But unfortunately we didn’t, and when they had the opportunity to put points on, they did.
“They capitalised on their opportunities, and we didn’t on ours.”© AAP 2013
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