Friday night’s game between the Reds and the recently re-instated Western Force featured exhilarating, end-to-end, running rugby.
Both teams took advantage of opportunities afforded by the favourable weather conditions by consistently getting the ball wide and relying on their backs’ set-piece plays to grant them results.
And did they ever! By halftime, 40 points had been scored by both sides with 51 points coming throughout the entire game.
Despite falling short, the Force proved themselves an admirable opponent who demonstrated their ability in engineering dazzling pieces of rugby, while also slogging it out defensively so that they stayed in the game until the siren sounded.
This was in part thanks to their field general, Jono Lance. Unfortunately, Lance’s game may only be remembered for having his calamitous goal attempt directly in front of the posts charged down.
Nevertheless, the 29-year-old demonstrated an expert ability in leading his fellow teammates by stringing together momentum-based phases play after play, which produced thrilling, spectator-friendly rugby.
Furthermore, his mountainous defensive efforts, which involved executing tackles both around the ruck, out wide and at one point saving an almost guaranteed try, ensured his team were always a chance to come away with the win.
The fact that Lance is home in Australia and again assuming the extremely important role of field general for the Western Force must be quite surreal considering his pre-COVID plans were completely different. It was only back in May that he announced his signing with the PRO14 side, Edinburgh, after a three-year stint playing for the Worcester Warriors in the English Premiership. Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, his visa was refused and the move collapsed for reasons surrounding the requirement of playing 75 per cent of his games being unachievable at the club.
With his Scottish rugby dreams crushed, Lance landed on his feet having been lured to his old stomping ground to compete in the newly formed Super Rugby AU competition. There is no doubt Lance is surprised to be back in Australia playing rugby let alone for his old team, the Force, who were axed from Super Rugby in 2017.
As demonstrated in his first showings for the club, he has certainly seized the opportunity and would not be ruling out a chance to potentially gain representative honours. It would surely be a fairy-tale ending if his dreams of representing Australia and playing for the Wallabies were to come to fruition.
Having shown his rugby prowess in his first couple of Super Rugby AU games and proved his willingness to fight for his team, the matches to follow are exceedingly important if he is to stamp his name in Dave Rennie’s squad.
With his international experience and involvement with title-winning teams, he possesses invaluable expertise that deserves praise and recognition.
While Lance’s potential inclusion in the Wallabies squad may be wishful thinking, the chance to pursue a lifelong Wallaby dream has certainly fuelled a fire within as shown on the field.
I’m intrigued to see what else Jono Lance has to offer Australian rugby and its fans.