No love was lost on their first encounter between the Western Force and the Melbourne Rebels since the Perth outfit was invited back to Super Rugby.
And in a match that included a first-half brawl, it was the rebels who got the last laugh; Win a 25-20 victory in Super Time. Isi Naisarani crashed for the attempt to win.
It was a cruel blow to the power struggling to bring the game to 20-20 after 80 minutes. They have now played four games without a win – their worst start to a Super Rugby campaign since 2010 when they lost six in a row.
Three years ago, both the armed forces and the rebels were put on the chopping block after Rugby Australia was instructed to drop one team because SANZAAR wanted to return to a 15-team competition.
Ultimately, it was the power that got the movie and the team spent the rest of the season making fun of the decision and landing on the ladder over the rebels and Waratahs.
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On the way to Friday night’s game, the Force downplayed conversations about this resentment game, but in the 20th minute, these claims were put to bed as substantial contingents from both sides in an off-the-ball fracas with captain Jeremy Thrush brought in the middle of the action.
“Is it Leichhardt or Fight Island,” commentator Andrew Swain joked about Fox Sports.
Referee Angus Gardner called on both captains to calm the situation down.
“I understand that there is a story between your two teams, so we’ll trace one back to getting them out of the system,” Gardner said.
“Just talk to your boys, please no more. As soon as the whistle sounds, we stop and continue with the game.”