The Western Force have held off a gallant Melbourne Rising outfit, winning 33-14 at UWA Sports Park, Perth.
The Force moved to top of the NRC ladder after putting in a six try to two performance, highlighted by winger Byron Ralston’s first half hattrick.
Ralston’s efforts were supported by individual tries from Brynard Stander, Andrew Ready and Johan Bardoul.
For the Rising, Justin Marsters scored his third consecutive try in as many matches, while Pone Fa’amausili and Richard Hardwick both earned their first five-pointer of the 2019 NRC.
It was a similar story for the Rising, who again showed promise, but the polish and well-rehearsed combinations of the Force proved too much, leaving the Melbourne still searching for their first win of the season.
The Force got off to a quick start when Byron Ralston finished off a multiple phase build-up in the third minute.
The Rising were to respond through Justin Marsters seven minutes later, after the winger was the beneficiary of a fantastic collect by Richard Hardwick, who provided the offload try assist. A James So’oialo conversion saw the Rising take a 7-5 lead.
After a period of struggle for both sides, a carry from James So’oialo only 10 metres from the Force’s try line was displaced and the home side pounced, with a quick wide ball exposing a gap in the Rising’s defence, allowing Ralston to score his second try and Prior to convert.
In the 32nd minute, Ralston secured his hattrick after being found out wide and producing a quick instep to dance his way to the line. A Prior conversion made the home side’s lead 19-7, where it stood at half time.
The Rising were on the backfoot early when Brynard Stander scored his first try in the 43rd minute, with Prior’s conversion extending the Force’s buffer to 19-points.
Yet the visitors answered via a Barbarians-type play when So’oialo looked to be kicking for touch after earning a penalty in the five-metre line, however, the inside centre tapped to himself and passed to Hardwick, who with the help of the entire forward pack mauling him, crossed for a much-needed try. So’oialo converted to trim the score line to 26-14.
However, the Force again responded when a powerful, yet controlled 20-metre rolling maul resulted in Andrew Ready crossing for his first try.
In the 71st minute, big powerful front rower Pone Fa’amausili sparked some hope of a Rising comeback with a strong rolling-maul try.
However, a try from replacement forward Johan Bardoul shut the door on any comeback and put the finishing touches on a Western Force victory.
The Rising will return back to Victoria for Round 4 of the NRC where they will face Queensland Country at Mars Stadium, Ballarat on Sunday 22 September.
Melbourne Rising 19
Tries: Marsters, Hardwick, Fa’amuasili
Conversions: So’oialo (2)
Western Force 38
Tries: Ralston (3), Stander, Ready, Bardoul
Conversions: Prior (4)