Tahs tunnel through what they thought was rock bottom against Force

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    The Western Force bid farewell to retiring flanker Matt Hodgson in grand style, thumping the NSW Waratahs 40-11 in Saturday night’s Super Rugby clash in Perth.

    The Force ran in five tries to one in the bonus-point blitz, with Hodgson joining in on the fun with a 44th-minute try.

    Hodgson put the icing on the cake by kicking a penalty on the fulltime siren to send the 10,384 crowd into raptures.

    NSW simply had no answers to an emotion-charged Force in wet conditions.

    The result was a sad end to the career of Waratahs lock Dean Mumm, who made a low-key exit to little fanfare in the 55th minute.

    But it was party time for the Force and their favourite son Hodgson, who ended his 140-game Super Rugby career on a high.

    Hodgson broke into tears as he addressed the crowd after the match, thanking everyone for their support.

    “When Hodgo scored that try, it was the highlight of the season,” Force coach Dave Wessels said.

    “I’m very proud of the boys for the effort they put up.

    “It was quite an easy week to be a coach, because the boys played for Hodgo. It was all for him, which was great.”

    The result meant the Force finished second in the Australian conference with a 6-9 record.

    For the Waratahs, 2017 will be remembered as one of their worst seasons, with the franchise finishing with a woeful 4-11 record.

    “It’s fair to say we’re pretty low,” Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said.

    “It’s been a season of lows. To finish off like that is incredibly disappointing.”

    The Force made a perfect start with a try to winger Alex Newsome inside 54 seconds.

    And, when Waratahs scrumhalf Jake Gordon was ordered to the sin bin in the 11th minute for a blatant offside, the visitors were in trouble.

    Force hooker Tatafu Polata-Nau crashed over in the 12th minute through a rolling maul, and the scoreline read 19-6 in the 35th minute when a sliding Marcel Brache was awarded a try when the TMO ruled he had grounded the ball correctly with his body.

    Things went from bad to worse for the Waratahs on the stroke of halftime when they turned the ball over to gift Jono Lance a runaway 65m try.

    But the biggest applause of the night arrived when Hodgson pounced on a Waratahs fumble to touch down shortly after halftime.

    The scoreline read 31-6 at that stage, with the game effectively over.

    The Force received a huge boost after the match when mining magnate Andrew Forrest pledged he would support the franchise in their fight for survival.

    © AAP 2017

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