Super Rugby Pacific: Highlanders have three sent to sin bin as Western Force stage upset at Perth

A first-half to forget has seen the Highlanders fall to a Super Rugby Pacific upset against the Western Force at Perth.

The Southerners were at the mercy of referee Nic Berry with three players sent to the sin bin, falling to a 30-17 defeat.

Felix Kalapu.
Felix Kalapu. Photo credit: Getty Images

Trailing by 21 points at halftime, the Highlanders started the second half encouragingly, but ultimately couldn't overcome the deficit.

Despite losing two players to injuries in the opening 15 minutes, it was the Force that looked the more dangerous of the two sides.

First-five Bryce Hegarty had the ball on a string, and scored the game's first try after a silky run by former Chiefs winger Toni Pulu.

The Highlanders scored their first points through the boot of Mitch Hunt, before it all went terribly wrong.

Lock Pari Pari Parkinson was the first to be shown a yellow card for infringing at the Force maul, before All Blacks prop Ethan de Groot followed moments later.

At times it looked as if the Highlanders would hold out the Force despite the numerical disadvantage, but the home side would finally make them pay.

Winger Manasa Mataele strolled over for his team's second try after a brilliant run by fullback Chase Tiatia.

Hegarty continued to tick the scoreline over with a penalty goal, before the Force were awarded a penalty try right before halftime.

Highlanders No.8 Marino Makaele-Tu'u brought a Force maul down, prompting Berry to award the five points and show another yellow card.

For the opening 15 minutes of the second half, it looked as if the Highlanders would stage a stunning comeback.

Tries to winger Connor Garden-Bachop and hooker Andrew Makalio, as well as a Force yellow card, saw them claw their way back into the contest.

But two further penalty goals to Hegarty pushed the lead from seven points to 13, as the Force held on to claim the shock win.

Highlanders 17 (Garden-Bachop, Makalio tries; Gilbert 2 con, Hunt 1 pen) Force 30 (Hegarty, Mataele, penalty tries; Hegarty 2 con, 3 pen)

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