The Roar
The Roar


Beale, Rodda shine on Super Rugby return as Force smash Crusaders to keep finals hopes alive

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20th April, 2024
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As the Crusaders’ season went from bad to worse, Kurtley Beale and Izack Rodda made bright returns to Super Rugby to help the Force keep their Super Rugby finals hopes alive by securing a massive 37-15 win in Perth.

The Wallabies duo lined up for their first action of the year in Super Rugby and instantly made a difference to a side decimated by injuries.

Beale, 35, was playing his first Super Rugby match in 1,497 days and didn’t miss a beat, while Rodda, who has been plagued by foot and leg injuries over the past two years, made an important lineout steal midway through the second half and was a calming influence after entering the dray early in the match for a concussed Tom Franklin.

Rodda’s clutch lineout steal came just in the nick of time, with the Crusaders closing the margin to 25-15 after flying winger Sevu Reece, who became the Crusaders’ greatest tryscorer by scoring his 53rd try for the franchise, cut the margin to a converted try midway through the second half.

But a Ben Donaldson penalty, and tries to forwards Sam Carter and Carlo Tizzano, saw the Force seal a memorable and important win for Simon Cron’s men that leaves them just four points outside the top eight ahead of a vital trip to Dunedin to take on the Highlanders.

The win was the Force’s first over the Crusaders since 2013.

Making it all the more impressive was the side’s tenacity in defence, where they made 206 tackles.


Their ability to come away with points also reflected a new-found ability to put pressure on their opposition.

“Huge hats off to the staff and coaches, staying true to how we want to play and what we believe in,” acting captain Nic White said.

“We’ve had a tough little trot, but no panic stations. We believe in what we’re building and it’s nice to get a little bit of a reward.

“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves, it’s just one game, but we’ve stayed the course and it’s good to see a few things coming off.”

Ben Donaldson takes the ball to the line against the Crusaders at HBF Park on April 20, 2024, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Janelle St Pierre/Getty Images)

Crusaders coach Rob Penney’s blood would have boiled once more as nothing went right for the seven-time defending champions.


The Crusaders’ lineout was once again poor, their scrum, which includes All Blacks Joe Moody, Owen Franks and Fletcher Newell, was surprisingly bad and the clunkiness in their attack that has crippled their season to date continued.

It means midway through the season the Crusaders, for so long the envy of the world, are just one win from their opening eight matches and sit dead last after the Force leapfrogged ahead of them.

“That one hurts,” captain Tom Christie said.

“We made a lot of errors and errors let any team into a game. We know we can attack and have gamebreakers [to win], but from there we need to make sure we don’t let them off so easily.”

Asked whether finals remained a priority for the Crusaders this year, Christie said they wouldn’t look beyond their next match against the Rebels.

“To be honest, I’m not interested in the ladder,” he said. “If we start winning games, we’ll put ourselves in a position.

“Yes, it’s unique, and yes no team’s probably done it from here, but I’ve still got full faith and trust in our team that we get it right we’re a dangerous team.”


The Crusaders’ all-time highest tryscorer Sevu Reece reacts after losing against the Force at HBF Park on April 20, 2024 in Perth. (Photo by Janelle St Pierre/Getty Images)

Once again the Crusaders were quick out of the blocks as Levi Aumua scored after just three minutes, but their early inroads stopped quickly from that point on.

The Force steadily went about their business and managed to put some scoreboard pressure on their fancied rivals.

Ben Donaldson quickly responded banging over the first of four penalties for the evening.

Two lovely passages of play from the home side, including some silky hands from Beale, led to Chase Tiatia getting on the end of a passage to score in the 17th minute to give the Force a narrow lead.

Donaldson’s second penalty then gave the Force an 11-5 lead after 24 minutes.

The Force looked like they would concede when Reuben Keane quickly went to the pocket to send Carlo Tizanno to the sin bin for coming in from the side to deny the Crusaders possession from an attacking position.


But the wasteful Crusaders failed to capitalise on the numerical advantage.

Eventually, the Force managed to get back up the other end and hooker Tom Horton got on the end of a well formed rolling maul to score on the stroke of half-time.

While the Crusaders hit back with tries to George Bell and Reece in the third quarter of the match, the Force rallied and managed to hold firm as Carter and Tizzano scored late in the piece to seal the win.

The beauty about their win too was the healthy and positive contributions from the vast majority of the team.

Horton responded from Cron signing another hooker by delivering his best performance of the year, Carter was strong on both sides of the ball, Donaldson did the little things well and the Force’s backline, including the hard-nosed Hamish Stewart and Bayley Kuenzle, were excellent.


Beale, who has made no secret of his desire to get back into the Wallabies set up, looked like he had played alongside his new teammates for years as he combined beautifully with Test fly-half Donaldson.

“I’m going to give a lot of credit to that to KB [Beale],” said White, having been asked about Donaldson’s mature and measured performance.

“The voice KB brought as soon as he came on. It would have been easy to come in and stay quiet, he’s new to this system, but he stepped straight in to being a real leader and a guy who’s benefited from that voice is Donno.”