The Brumbies travel to Perth knowing that a big win is a non-negotiable if they are to have any hope of hosting a semi-final.
The Brumbies travel to Perth on Saturday knowing that a big win is a non-negotiable if they are to have any hope of hosting a semi-final.
The Brumbies could still claim a home semi-final – they could even finish top of the table – but will need to claim a bonus-point win over the Force to move above the Bulls.
But even a full house of points might not be enough. If the Chiefs beat the Blues and the Bulls get a single point against the Stormers, the Brumbies will finish third, irrespective of the result at NIB Stadium.
That is highly significant as only one team in Super Rugby history – the Crusaders in 1999 – has won the competition after finishing the regular season outside the top two.
The Brumbies have not not lost to the Force since April 2011, winning four and drawing one of their last five clashes, so Jake Whites troops will rightly back themselves to get the job done. The Brumbies were also convincing 41-7 winners when these teams met in Canberra in Week 11.
The team from Canberra are high on confidence at the moment after becoming the first Australian franchise to beat the British and Irish Lions in 42 years.
Meanwhile, the 13th-placed Force are coming off a lacklustre home loss to a severely understrength Waratahs outfit back in June a few days after conceding 69 points to the touring Lions. The hosts have won just three games all season
Brumbies coach Jake White has wasted no time in bringing his Wallabies guns back into the mix, including all seven who played in last weekend's Test series decider against the British and Irish Lions in his matchday squad with George Smith the only one not in the starting XV.
Likewise, the Force welcome back their Wallaby contingent of Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman and Nick Cummins with the latter playing his first game since mid-May.
Prediction: The Brumbies really should have too much firepower for their hosts. The Brumbies to win with a bonus point.
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Matt Hodgson (c), 5 Hugh McMeniman, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 James Hilterbrand, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Salesi Ma'afu, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Sam Norton-Knight, 22 Sam Christie.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Colby Faingaa, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements:16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 George Smith, 20 Robbie Coleman, 21 Andrew Smith, 22 Mark Swanepoel.
Date: Saturday, July 13
Venue: NIB Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 19:45 local (12:45 BST, 11:45 GMT)
Referee: Rohan Hoffman (Australia)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)