Transformed Force seek revenge on Waratahs
April 11, 2014
Greg Growden and Russell Barwick run the rule over Super Rugby round nine%]
Western Force captain Matt Hodgson might be enjoying being on a four-game winning streak but hasn't forgotten their dismal 22-point season-opening loss to the Waratahs. The Force went down 43-21 in Sydney in February to start the Super Rugby season in disappointing fashion and when they were beaten convincingly at home by the Brumbies, it looked like the Perth-based side were in for another difficult campaign. They haven't lost since.
Their club-record four-match winning streak has included the scalps of the Melbourne Rebels, Highlanders, Chiefs and Queensland Reds. Hodgson is upbeat given his side's impressive run and is intent on turning the tables on the `Tahs on Saturday night at nib Stadium.
Israel Folau ran in three of the Waratahs' six tries in round one and is expected to return to face the Force after missing two games with a throat injury.
"We do have good momentum... but the Waratahs are a tough side with Wallabies all over the field," Hodgson said. "It's going to be a tough test for us. We are expecting him [Folau] to play, though, and all words are that he will line up. Our attack doesn't really change much if he's in or out, but we are planning as if he will be there."
The Waratahs, and in particular Folau, made the Force look silly back in February and Hodgson knows they need to be switched on defensively.
"Two big things in that game were our variations in attack... and also we weren't happy with the way we defended and fell into traps," Hodgson said. "We've changed that pretty much straight after that game and it is paying dividends now. When you look at their side - you have to track Kurtley [Beale], Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel... we are just focusing on our defensive structures and not who, but where they are going to run at us."
The Force have made just the one change from the team that beat the Reds last week with Solomoni Rasolea out with a fractured wrist and replaced by run-on debutant Marcel Brache at outside centre. Remarkably, the Force - who have never qualified for the finals since their inception in 2006 - could sit at the top of the Australian conference at the end of the round if they win and the Brumbies lose to the Reds.
Force: Jayden Hayward; Luke Morahan, Marcel Brache, Kyle Godwin, Nick Cummins; Sias Ebersohn, Alby Mathewson; Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson (captain), Angus Cottrell; Wilhelm Steemkamp, Sam Wykes, Kieran Longbottom; Nathan Charles, Pek Cowan. Replacements: Heath Tessmann, Tetera Faulkner, Ollie Hoskins, Adam Coleman, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior, Zack Holmes, Chris Tuatara-Morrison.