It's Michael Hooper's 150th appearance today and he becomes the youngest Waratahs player to reach the mark at just 28 years old.
It's a perfect evening for rugby, with virtually no wind whatsoever and an air temperature of 21 degrees celcius.
The Waratahs took a 23-14 victory earlier in the season when these two sides met. The sides have never met at this neutral venue and the Force are still seeking their first win of the season.
Today's referee is Nic Berry, assisted by Graham Cooper and Amy Perrett, with Brett Cronan on TMO duty.
2 changes have been made to the Waratahs side that thumped the Reds 45-12 at home last weekend. Both changes are in the forward pack, with Johnson-Holmes dropping to the bench as Te Tetera Falkner takes his spot in the three jersey, while it's a return for Rob Simmons who will captain the side today as he replaces Ned Hanigan at lock.
The Force had a bye last weekend but have made 5 changes to the side the narrowly lost 20-25 to the Rebels in their last outing. In the forward pack, it's a return for the experienced Pek Cowan at tighthead prop while Kane Koteka comes in at openside flank. Ian Prior replaces Nick Frisby at halfback, with Lacey replacing Brache on the left wing and Strachan replacing McGregor at fullback.
WARATAHS STARTING XV: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 James Ramm, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachie Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons (C), 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Te Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Tom Robertson. RESERVES: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 19 Ned Hanigan, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Joey Walton
WESTERN FORCE STARTING XV: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Richard Kahui, 11 Brad Lacey, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior (C), 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Henry Stowers, 5 Fergus Lee Warner, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Pek Cowan. RESERVES: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Tom Sheminant, 19 Johan Bardoul, 20 Ollie Atkins, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Nick Jooste, 23 Jack McGregor
Hello and welcome to this round 7 Super Rugby AU clash between The Western Force and The Waratahs at Cbus Super Stadium in the Gold Coast.
We are underway as Jono Lance sends his kick off into the Waratahs 22.
The Force have some early territory and possession, stringing 9 phases together but not making much yardage. Just as it looked like it would open up, the ball is fumbled into touch on the wing.
The Force have a lineout on halfway which is overthrown. Tom Horton couldn't get it cleanly on the bounce and knocks it on. The Force will have the first scrum of the game.
After one reset, the Waratahs win a scrum penalty, with the veteran Kieran Longbottom penalised for collapsing. Harrison kicks to touch and finds it 15 out.
A lovely set piece from the Tahs, who dummy set a maul and have multiple dummy runners fooling the Force defenders. It eventually went to Tom Horton who charged it up but knocked it on in contact.
It's a superb clearance from the lineout by debutant Jake Strachan who finds touch beyond halfway.
The Waratahs have a penalty 40 metres out after an offside from Brad Lacey. This time Harrison opts to have a shot at goal.
PENALTY! WARATAHS! HARRISON! 0-3. Will Harrison's season kicking stats move to 25 from 27 with a successful penalty attempt.
The Force work the ball up to the Waratahs 22 before a bit of a nothing grubber kick by Ralston gifting possession back to the Tahs. Gordon's clearance from the base of the ruck is touched so the Tahs will have a lineout just outside their 22.
An almost perfect kick from Lance, who looked to gain some territory. It's a superman dive that prevents this from going into touch, as Will Harrison manages to slap the ball and keep it in near his try line. He gets up and the Waratahs clear their lines.
TRY! WESTERN FORCE! STANDER! 5-3. That is a superb try from the Force! Richard Kahui gets it flat on the 22 and jabs a grubber through. It looked for all money to be heading into touch but it gets a great bounce infield, sitting up perfectly for Stander who gathered and pounced over the line in the corner for the meat pie!
A tough first kick attempt in the corner from Ian Prior whose kick slides just across the uprights.
Great continuity from the Tahs who carry it forward through 13 phases. They earn a penalty in centre field with Richard Kahui penalised for being offside. Harrison will have a shot at goal from about 35 metres out.
PENALTY! WARATAHS! HARRISON! 5-6. The Waratahs flyhalf has no trouble edging his side back in front.
Harrison makes half a break but he's scragged back by Longbottom. Thrush was the first man in and got a turnover but Nic Berry reckons he's got a knock on in the process. Replays show otherwise but it'll be a Tahs scrum on their own 40 nevertheless.
The Tahs have looked menacing every time they've chanced their arm out wide. With the Force defending quite narrow, there seems to be a lot of space on the wings. The Tahs look to exploit it three times in a row off the back of the scrum, but it's third time unlucky, as the pass is poor and goes into touch on halfway.
Richard Kahui puts a great kick over the top which bounces out inside the Waratahs 22. He thought he'd won possession too with the new 50-22 rule but Nic Berry informs him that it's in fact the Waratahs ball since he took it back behind halfway. The gain still belongs to the Force is the ball is knocked on by the Waratahs from the lineout.
The Force get penalty advantage as Faulkner collapses. They chance their arm with a set piece but nothing comes of it. Prior will have a shot at goal from the 22 on a slight angle.
PENALTY! WESTERN FORCE! PRIOR! 8-6. The Force retake the lead with a routine penalty kick from Ian Prior.
The Force have a lineout just inside their own half but the feed isn't straight, gifting the Waratahs a scrum. Longbottom is once again penalised for collapsing. Harrison will have the opportunity to put his side back in front once again from 45 metres out on the angle.
PENALTY! WARATAHS! HARRISON! 8-9. Yet another pinpoint kick from Will Harrison, who picks his tee up as soon as he strikes the ball.
TRY! WARATAHS! NEWSOME! 8-14. Lance drops it cold on halfway and is punished! The Tahs spread it wide quickly to Foketi who makes the linebreak and finds support in Gordon on his inside. The scrumhalf takes it close but is taken down less than 10 metres out. The ball is recycled quickly and swung out wide to Alex Newsome, who gets it on the bounce and dives over for a try in the corner!
CONVERSION! HARRISON! 8-16. This guy can't miss! He strikes it perfectly from the sideline and the ball sails through the centre of the sticks.
HALF TIME! WESTERN FORCE 8 - 16 WARATAHS. An extremely important end to the half from the Western Force who find themselves just 8 points behind at the break. They'll have to do a lot more to turn this match around though, having only had about 35% of the ball so far. Stick around to see how this game plays out!
The Waratahs are looking lethal just before half time. Horton makes a break and carries it up to the Force 22. Through 15 phases now as the defence has recovered and reset. They continue to bring it forward, making a few metres at a time but staying patient. Just a metre out after 22 phases but the defence continues to be disciplined and resolute. The hooter sounds as a pod of forwards look to run it over the line but the Force have somehow managed to hold the ball up and make sure the Waratahs don't get anymore points to take to the shed with them.
Harrison gets the match back underway with a deep kick off which is fielded and cleared by Jono Lance.
Harrison takes his eye off the pill and it bursts through his hands. Godwin swoops it up but is tackled. Kahui looks to execute a little dink kick into space over the defence but doesn't get enough on it as Maddocks gets to it and marks it.
Ralston makes a linebreak and throws an offload on the inside to Godwin! The Waratahs defenders marked the Force support brilliantly so Godwin looks to the boot, chipping it over the last defender. The bounce is good for Maddocks though so he's able to retrieve the ball. His fellow Waratahs do enough to support him, retain the ball and clear.
TRY! WARATAHS! MADDOCKS! 8-21. OHHHH INTERCEPT! Lance holds on too long, taking it flat to the defensive line and throwing a cut out ball toward the wing. Maddocks read it easily, stepping up and making a clean intercept, going over the line untouched.
CONVERSION! HARRISON! 8-23. Harrison extends the lead with his easiest kick of the game.
Disappointing for the Western Force, who strung together 11 positive phases, making good gains on each. It's ended with an innocuous knock on in contact by Brad Lacey about 30 metres out.
The Waratahs have gifted possession back with an early engagement freekick. It's now an attacking scrum to the Force.
Kahui has opted to go to the boot again. It's a decent option this time but his kick was a little heavy and doesn't sit up, trickling over the dead ball line for a 22 drop out.
The Western Force have worked their way back upfield! It's taken within 10 metres from the line after 8 phases where the referee awards them a penalty advantage for offside. Sadly for them, this switched the focus off as the ball was knocked on straight away. No matter as they'll go back for the penalty.
It's a completely dominant scrum by the Western Force who get the upperhand and shove the Tahs scrum back toward their line. The ball squirts out and Stowers attempts to dive onto it but doesn't manage to ground it. The Force repack the scrum as they had penalty advantage.
The Waratahs are penalised for collapsing the scrum. Force go to the scrum again from the penalty.
Yet another penalty goes against the Waratahs, as Jack Dempsey is penalised for not releasing the player before trying to steal the ball. Only a matter of time before the Tahs are given a discipline warning. Force scrum again, 5 metres out.
Heartbreak for the Force, who are penalised this time at the scrum with Longbottom collapsing under immense pressure. Relieving penalty for the Tahs who clear beyond their 22.
Sublime counterattack from the Force! A little chip and chase over the defence by Jake Strachan from inside his 22. He regathers and passes to Ralston on his outside who looks to the boot. It goes into the Tahs 22 with the defender under pressure and he is smashed into touch by Godwin.
Ned Hanigan makes a lineout steal and a minute later makes the turnover at the ruck as the Force looked to bring the clearing kick back. Instant impact from the substitue.
TRY! WARATAHS! MADDOCKS! 8-28. Oh what a try that is! A fantastic set piece play sees Jack Maddocks running a superb inside line from deep and slices straight through! TMO is having another look and will overturn the try, as Johnson-Holmes obstructed a Force defender which allowed Maddocks to get away. NO TRY!!!
The Force have a lineout inside the Tahs half and finally get one right, retaining possession. They've had the lions share of territory in the 2nd half but haven't made anything of it. Important for them to get points now if they're to mount a comeback.
The Waratahs defence is resolute and Lance is forced to kick it away, making no gain in 14 phases. The Tahs counter quickly but there's a small knock on. Force scrum, 40 metres from their line.
Kahui and Godwin combine to carry the ball up to halfway off the back of the scrum. The Waratahs defence is solid again though, recovering and keeping the Force at bay. They have however given away a penalty, with Angus Bell caught offside. The Force will have a lineout on the Waratahs 22.
Lineout is simply not working and is stolen again. The clearance kick is to the halfway line, where Byron Ralston is under it but shells it! It looked to have gone backwards but Nic Berry has ruled otherwise. To be fair, Ralston didn't deserve to retain the ball having dropped such a sitter.
Another lovely set play from the Waratahs, who shift it out wide quickly, where there's been space all game. The ball is taken to the 22 in the first phase by Ramm. The Waratahs look to spread it back the other way where Ned Hanigan coughs it up, giving the Force a defensive scrum just outside their 22.
Trouble coming from all parts of the game now for the Force, who are penalised for collapsing their own scrum. Tahs go to the corner in search of a bonus point try.
Well, the lineout isn't working from their own ball, but the Force contest this one and make the steal. The ball is recycled and cleared but it's still inside the Force 22.
Something has gone awry from the lineout set play which Hooper is audibly frustrated by. The Force make the tackle on him and then get the turnover, clearing upfield.
TRY! WARATAHS! GORDON! 8-28. Great awareness from Hunt! He spotted space behind a flat Force defence on halfway and screamt to Harrison for the dink over the top to him. He executes it perfectly, with Hunt timing his run perfectly too. He collects the ball and swings it out wide to Jake Gordon who managed to support his centre. He has the space and speed to make his way to the tryline! BUT WAIT... TMO is having a look again... NO TRY!!! Gordon was offside when Harrison put the kick through and advanced before he was put on. A lovely try is sadly overruled for the Waratahs here.
Kick doesn't find touch, kept in wonderfully by Newsome and cleared up field by the Tahs.
McGregor has a slight look up at the advancing Tahs defence. He's hanging his head here as he's spilt the pill about 10 metres from his line, giving the Tahs a wonderful platform at an attacking scrum.
Donaldson looks to beat the hooter with a drop goal conversion. He succeeds in one aspect, but his attempt hits the post. Tahs will get the restart and look for the bonus point try.
TRY! WARATAHS! JOHNSON-HOLMES! 8-28. This one won't be overruled, as the Tahs go close from the scrum and eventually shunt it over the line after a few attempts from the forwards.
FULL TIME! WESTERN FORCE 8 - 28 WARATAHS. The ball is knocked on after the hooter and Nic Berry blows the full time whistle. The Waratahs move up to second place on the ladder with that win, while the Force remain at the bottom winless. Ultimately they were outplayed in all departments today. They had plenty of the ball and territory in the second half but lacked creativity, unable to convert any chances. It's back to the drawing board for the Perth side.
Western Force
NSW Waratahs
14' Brynard Stander
34' Alex Newsome
44' Jack Maddocks
79' Harry Johnson...
35' Will Harrison
45' Will Harrison
27' Ian Prior
8' Will Harrison
19' Will Harrison
31' Will Harrison
Drop Goals
Yellow Cards
Red Cards
Pekahou Cowan
Feleti Kaitu'u
Kieran Longbottom
Jeremy Thrush
Fergus Lee-Warner
Henry Stowers
Kane Koteka
Brynard Stander
Ian Prior
Jono Lance
Brad Lacey
Richard Kahui
Kyle Godwin
Byron Ralston
Jake Strachan
Tom Robertson
Tom Horton
Tetera Faulkner
Tom Staniforth
Rob Simmons
Lachlan Swinton
Michael Hooper
Jack Dempsey
Jake Gordon
Will Harrison
Alex Newsome
Karmichael Hunt
Lalakai Foketi
James Ramm
Jack Maddocks
Andrew Ready
Chris Heiberg
Tom Sheminant
Johan Bardoul
Ollie Atkins
Jacob Abel
Nick Jooste
Jack McGregor
Robbie Abel
Gus Bell
Harry Johnson-Holmes
Ned Hanigan
Hugh Sinclair
Mitch Short
Ben Donaldson
Joey Walton