The Emirates Western Force expected a physical battle against the Sharks in Perth on Saturday night however two injuries and a red card all before 20 minutes had elapsed certainly wasn’t part of the planning for the WA side, nor was the resultant 12-39 loss in front of a strong home crowd.

Forced to play for more than three-quarters of the game with only fourteen men following the dismissal of Rory Sidey and rocked by early injuries to both Mitch Inman and David Pocock, the West Australian’s showed great character and resolve before the visitors finished strongly giving the scoreline a lop-sided look.
Despite suffering a numerical disadvantage for a significant portion of the match, Graham said he didn’t believe the result hinged on the decision to sideline Sidey.
“No not at all, there have been numerous games throughout the years where 14 men have gone on to win and I still felt very confident with the way we prepared our game plan,” Graham said.
“Having said that when you’re down to 14 men you’ve got to make sure you control the game and we didn’t value possession and as a consequence paid a fairly heavy price.”
A frantic, disjointed start to the game saw the Emirates Western Force enjoy the bulk of territory and possession in the opening minutes, only to reshuffle the deck when Inman was forced off with an elbow injury, Sidey his replacement.
Following an infringement at the ruck on 8 minutes James O’Connor stroked home from the halfway line to nudge the home side in front, but that lead was to last just two minutes as the Sharks bagged their first try of the game.
In keeping with the early exchanges, it was a rather scrappy affair as the hosts managed to force a turnover close to their own posts only to cough up possession as they looked to move the ball and winger Odwa Ndungane showed great awareness to hack the ball on and touch down.
Patrick Lambie added the extras before the Force suffered yet more disruption as David Pocock limped off to be replaced by Sam Wykes.
Despite the fearsome reputation enjoyed by their pack, the Sharks had clearly opted to play an expansive game right from the off, with both wingers a constant threat and on 17 minutes they launched another attack from deep that would ultimately cost the Force dearly.
Referee Keith Brown reached for his red card following what he deemed to be a dangerous tackle by Sidey and the home side were forced to play out the game a man down.
The Sharks opted for the scrum from the resulting penalty and Bismarck du Plessis rumbled over from close range and Lambie the conversion to make it an 11 point lead.
To their credit, the Force responded positively to their latest setback, finally starting to work through some phases and apply some pressure and they were rewarded with another six points from the boot of O’Connor as lock Steven Sykes was twice pinged for offences at the breakdown in quick succession.
An unfortunate knock-on within sight of the try line summed up the attacking fortunes of the home side as opportunities were wasted in good scoring areas.
“I think one of the problems that we’re having at the moment is we’re playing good football from the 40m line to the 22 and then we’re getting in there and just trying to push too much,” Skipper Nathan Sharpe said following the match.
“It is disappointing for us to not capitalise on being in good field position or having some ascendancy in attack and that is an area we’ve got to work on quickly and that will come with maturity. Certainly it is an area that letting us down at the moment.”
Just as it seemed that the game’s momentum might be changing, the South Africans struck again.  Sykes making amends for his earlier indiscretions, bulldozing over the line after his team-mates had completed an eight-phase move that rumbled 75 metres down the left-hand side of the field.  Lambie failed to add the extra points while O’Connor was similarly off target at the other end with a long-range penalty which ended a dramatic opening period.
Both sides traded penalty goals to start the second half and despite a number of personnel changes from the Emirates Western Force coaching staff in an effort to inject fresh legs they were unable to break through for what would have been a very handy five pointer.
It was the Sharks who were able to find the cracks in a defence having to work overtime to compensate for a lack of numbers as tries to flanker Willem Alberts and the impressive Lambie ensured a bonus point win.
2011 Super Rugby – Week 3
Saturday, 5 March 2011 at nib Stadium
Emirates Western Force 12 (Pen: James O’Connor 4)
Sharks 39 (Tries: Odwa Ndungane, Bismarck du Plessis, Steven Sykes, Willem Alberts, Patrick Lambie; Conv: Lambie 4; Pen: Lambie 2)
Crowd: 17,620
Milestones: Tevita Metuisela (debut Emirates Western Force & Super Rugby)
By the Clock
Mitch Inman replaced by Rory Sidey for the Emirates Western Force
Penalty successful for the Emirates Western Force to James O’Connor
Try for the Sharks to Odwa Ndungane
Conversion successful for the Sharks to Patrick Lambie
Sam Wykes replaces David Pocock for the Emirates Western Force
Rory Sidey sent off for the Emirates Western Force
Odwa Ndungane replaced by Lwazi Mvovo
Try for the Sharks from Bismarck Du Plessis
Conversion successful for the Sharks to Patrick Lambie
Penalty successful for the Emirates Western Force to James O’Connor
Penalty successful for the Emirates Western Force to James O’Connor
Try for the Sharks to Steven Sykes
Half time
Emirates Western Force 9 – 19 Sharks
Penalty successful for the Sharks to Patrick Lambie
Ben Whittaker replaced by Nathan Charles for the Emirates Western Force
Penalty successful for the Emirates Western Force to James O’Connor
Ryan Kankowski replaced by Jacques Botes for the Sharks
JP Pietersen replaced by Jacques-Louis Potgieter for the Sharks
Tim Fairbrother replaced by Matt Dunning for the Emirates Western Force
Try for the Sharks to Willem Alberts
Conversion successful for the Sharks to Patrick Lambie
Jannie du Plessis replaced by John Smit for the Sharks
Brett Sheehan replaced by James Stannard for the Emirates Western Force
Craig Burden replaced Bismarck Du Plessis for the Sharks
Penalty successful for the Sharks to Patrick Lambie
Steven Sykes replaced by Anton Bresler for the Sharks
Matt Hodgson replaced by Tevita Metuisela for the Emirates Western Force
Nick Cummins yellow carded for the Emirates Western Force
Try for the Sharks to Patrick Lambie
Conversion successful for the Sharks to Patrick Lambie
Emirates Western Force 12 – 39 Sharks