Super Rugby
Force to tackle Tahs head-to-head
February 18, 2014

Super Rugby 2014: Greg Growden's team-by-team preview

© SANZAR (Image Supplied)

Western Force have nothing to fear in their Super Rugby opener against New South Wales Waratahs at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Sunday, Alby Mathewson says.

The Waratahs are spoilt for choice in their backline, with Wallabies Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley giving them awesome strike power. By contrast, the Force backline features just three internationals: winger Nick Cummins, one-Test Wallabies utility Luke Morahan and four-cap All Blacks scrum-half Mathewson.

NSW also boast a host of talent among their forwards, and they are raging favourites to beat the Force. But Mathewson says the Waratahs have chinks in their armour.

"Attacking wise, the Waratahs are really strong," Mathewson said. "They've probably got Wallabies on the bench. But they've got to tackle as well. We've seen some things that we can exploit in the backline.

"They move players around on defence to protect them. It's obviously for a reason. There's no reason why our backs can't go head-to-head with them.

"We've got 'the Honey Badger' [Cummins], who's a Wallabies winger. Luke Morahan has been unreal for us through the pre-season. And with Junior Rasolea and Kyle Godwin there, I don't think there's anything to worry about."

The Force backline is expected to feature at least two new players, with Morahan likely to be given first crack at fullback and former Brumbies playmaker Zack Holmes set to take over at first five-eighth.

Mathewson, meanwhile, will play his 100th Super Rugby match with two black eyes after a bruising encounter against the Argentinian Pampas XV on Friday night. "It was just a face clash. I was making sure my nose wasn't broken," Mathewson said. "It was just watery eyes with a cut and blood."

Mathewson has never missed a Super Rugby game through injury.

The top ESPNfootytips Super Rugby tipster at the end of the home and away season wins $A2000, with the runner-up claiming $A1000. We also have a pair of Gold Class movie tickets for each weekly winner.

Best of all you and a mate could be heading off to Game II of the Bledisloe Cup series between the Wallabies and the All Blacks in Auckland. The prize includes flight, accommodation, transfers and match tickets. Simply enter your tips WEEKLY to make another entry in the competition.


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