Preview: Force v Brumbies

Date published: June 4 2015

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Tevita_Kuridrani_Brumbies_v_Force

Friday's game in Perth will have a lot more riding on it for the visitors as the Brumbies continue their play-off challenge.

Away to the Force, the Brumbies know that a bonus-point win would secure a place in the knockout stages regardless of what happens in the final game of the season at home to the Crusaders.

It would also keep the pressure on the Waratahs at the top of the Australian conference, with the two teams level on points in the race for a home play-off game.

The Force, meanwhile, look destined to finish bottom of the pile after last week's defeat at home to the Reds.

It's been a desperate season in Perth, and while Ben McCalman's re-signing provided some good news this week, there is a sense that the club is falling behind the other Australian franchises.

Talk of academies for the Rebels and the Force might indicate the future isn't as grim as it currently appears, but the Perth side have been off the pace this year.

The Brumbies will know better than to overlook the potential banana skin however. Two years ago the Force beat the Brumbies on the final day costing the Canberra side a home a place in the top two.

While they went onto to reach the final, the travel caught up with them against the Chiefs and full-back Jesse Mogg admits the team are desperate to avoid a repeat.

"That hurt us a couple of years ago, we went over there and played really poorly and lost that game," said Mogg.

"Our attitude is to go there and win.

"We want to finish the regular season with two wins to give us every possible chance of finishing second and getting that home semi-final."

The last time these team met: The two sides met in Canberra in Round 4 with the Brumbies winning 27-15. They claimed a bonus point thanks to tries from Rory Arnold, Joe Tomane, Ben Alexander and Nic White, but they didn't have it all their own way.In the end it was the home side's defence which proved decisive, although Nick Cummins, on his return to the Force, and Steve Mafi did cross for the visitors.

Players to watch: In the absence of Sias Ebersohn, Zack Holmes will get the chance at fly-half and fill a problem position for the Force. If they are to turn things around going forward, an established, young fly-half would certainly help. Holmes will get the first shot, while Luke Burton on the bench will also be keen to show what he can do.

With Matt Toomua still out for the Brumbies, Robbie Coleman will continue in the inside centre role. A versatile back, Coleman has grown since getting a regular opportunity this season, first at full-back, then at 12. Competition is fierce for spots in the Wallaby squad, but given his recent form, Coleman will hope to given Michael Cheika further headaches.

Team news: The Force lost fly-half Sias Ebersohn to a rib injury this week so Zach Holmes comes into start at ten, with new half-back partner Alby Mathewson. Up front Sam Wykes will make his final home appearance for the team before he heads to Japan while Guy Millar gets a first start at tighthead.

The Brumbies were dealt a major blow this week with news that Sam Carter would be missing for the rest of the season with a medial ligament injury, while Matt Toomua is still out with an ankle problem. Blake Enever replaces Carter in the second row in the only change to the team that beat the Bulls.

Form: The Force's season can be split pretty evenly into two parts. They've beaten the Waratahs in both meetings with the defending champions, and they've lost to everyone else. Last time out they were convincingly beaten at home by the Reds.

The Brumbies come into the game off the back of an important win over the Bulls, who they battled past in Canberra. That followed a success over the Lions two weeks earlier before a bye but prior to their success in Johannesburg they had lost four out of five.

Prediction: Given the positions of the two teams, and what is resting on this game, it's hard to bet against the Brumbies. Even if the game is being played in Perth, we think Stephen Larkham's men should win fairly comfortably. Brumbies by 12!

Previous results:
2015: Brumbies won 27-15 in Canberra
2014: Brumbies won 47-25 in Canberra
2014: Brumbies won 27-14 in Perth
2013: Force won 21-15 in Perth
2013: Brumbies won 41-7 in Canberra
2012: Brumbies won 27-18 in Perth
 
The teams:
 
Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Guy Millar, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Ryan Louwrens, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Patrick Dellit
 
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Robbie Coleman, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Nigel Ah Wong, 23 James Dargaville.

Date: Friday, 5 June
Venue: nib Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 19:00 local (11:00 GMT, 23:00 NZST, 13:00 SAST)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Damien Mitchelmore, Graham Cooper
TMO: Peter Marshall

COMMENTS