Force heart becomes vital rugby weapon
April 27, 2014
The Force defended well to keep the Bulls tryless and record a deserved victory in Perth.(Australia only)
On paper, the Western Force don't possess the starpower to reach the Super Rugby finals. But the team's heart and commitment to the cause has left them with a prime chance to defy the naysayers by securing a top-six berth.
The Force rose to fourth on the standings after grinding out a 15-9 win over the Bulls in Perth, with fly-half Sias Ebersohn nailing five penalties in the wet to secure the victory. Four wins from their remaining seven games should be enough for the Force to seal a maiden finals berth. Five wins might get them a home final.
The buzz surrounding the Perth-based franchise is in stark contrast to the start of the year, when the Force were tipped to collect the wooden spoon after losing their opening two games. While the Waratahs, Brumbies and Reds possessed outfits laden with Wallabies, the Force were nothing more than a working-class team featuring a host of rugby rejects.
But what the Force lacked in starpower, they made up for in heart. Even a host of injuries to key players hasn't shaken their belief. Scrum-half Alby Mathewson (ankle) and winger Luke Morahan (hamstring) are at least a month away from resuming, while lock Hugh McMeniman (collarbone) and flanker Chris Alcock (shoulder) won't be available until the last few rounds. But still the Force fairytale rolls on.
Next week's bye will give the players a chance to rest up their battered and bruised bodies, before the team embarks on a crunch two-game tour of South Africa where they'll take on the struggling Cheetahs and Stormers. Force coach Michael Foley believes his team's character is the major reason behind their run of six wins from their past seven games.
"The quality of the man behind the player is the thing that's getting us a lot of those results at the moment," Foley said. "To the credit of all the guys, they make all the sacrifices and commit to each other. All we have to remember is keep doing that, and everything else will take care of itself. Where we are on the table right now is not something we should be focused on."
But while Foley is playing it cool, Force fans are daring to dream of a golden campaign after enduring eight previous years of pain.