It was the end of an era. The end of a Matt Hodgson era. The Western Force stalwart signed in 2006 and in 11 years, he accumulated 140 appearances and he was the first player to reach the milestone of 100 games for the Force. In 2012 he was given the captains armband and since then he has not looked back. The man born in New South Wales was set to end a career with 11 Wallaby appearances on a high note. Each player had an exclusive kit to celebrate the wonderful career of Hodgson with all the notable names of the Force embroided into the torso.
A motivated Force team got of to a fantastic start Michael Ruru and Dane Haylett-Petty linked up to set Curtis Rona free. The centre ran a strong few metres and powered through a few tackles plus got his hands free and offloaded to Alex Newsome. The winger was running from deep to accelerated on to the ball and nobody could stop the Force flyer who dived in. Unbelievable start from the Western Force.
It didn’t stop their either as Michael Ruru kept the tempo up which ultimately resorted in Jake Gordon being sent to the sin bin with a yellow card.
Jono Lance put the resulting penalty into touch and from it the home team launched a maul. It was a great drive and Tatafu Polota-Nau scored against his old club. The club he has appeared 140 times for!
The Waratahs couldn’t deal with the Force’s relentless attacking play and yet again, the Force were in. Dane Haylett Petty dropped the ball onto the boot and with Marcel Brache in hot pursuit, Taquele Nayaravoro failed to scoop up the loose ball and the American international swooped on the ball to score! The TMO checked the try and found no issue so the original decision stood!
The Force were flying to victory despite it not even being halftime and they extended their advantage a few minutes before the break. The Tahs could just not keep the ball and once again the ball slipped out of the ruck and Curtis Rona picked it up in acres of space. The rugby league convert drew in his man then gave a pass to Jono Lance who sped away from everyone and scored! After a 70 metre dash, the nib Stadium went wild!
Next came history…
The Waratahs set piece was being dominated and a 5 metre scrum was always a worry for New South Wales. Inevitably, the scrum was shakey and the ball spilled out the back. Michael Wells did handle it for the Tahs but Michael Ruru was straight up to pressurize him and the ball fell loose for Matt Hodgson! He simply dropped to the floor and landed on the ball to score! His final game of rugby had handed him a try!
The Waratahs did salvage some pride back as they took the ball down the shortside through Michael Hooper who handed the ball to Hugh Roach and the hooker dived over. It was hardly consolation.
The game had been great and it was evident that the Force were playing for Matty Hodgson. He was then awarded with the perfect send of as the Waratahs infringed. Hodgson stood up to take the kick and in the final play he struck the ball in between the uprights! It was a memorable moment and a great victory which perhaps secured the Force’s place in Super Rugby…