Planet Rugby

Preview: Reds v Force

04th April 2014 07:20

Share:

Ben Tapuai Reds v Force SR 2013

Outside break: Ben Tapuai

The stuttering giant against the resurgent upstart, Saturday sees the Reds host the visiting Western Force at Suncorp Stadium.

2014 is turning out to be a bit of a mixed bag for the Reds. There was a hard-fought win over the Stormers last week, their third of the season, but it was far from convincing.

Injuries have played a role in the makeup of the backline and do so once again this weekend against the Force, with Jamie-Jerry Taulagi making his debut.

There's no Aidan Toua, Chris Feauai-Sautia or Lachie Turner - starters the three of them - and that's part of the reason why the Reds' attack has looked a little wayward in recent times.

Quade Cooper at least continues to inspire and mature; his drop goal against the Stormers was clinical and well-timed considering the nature of the match.

Similarly in the pack Liam Gill has fallen to injury, the tenacious young openside a key figure at the breakdown the Reds now must do without.

There's a view that the Reds got the rough end of the stick when playing in South Africa against the Sharks and Lions, and it's not a completely unfair assessment. The officiating in both matches when it comes down to the penalty counts is probably best described as "questionable."

But top teams roll with those setbacks and don't look to them for excuses.

No one is expecting the Reds to repeat their title success from 2011, which indicates that somewhere along the line things have slipped off. The squad depth is full of young but unproven talent, as Cooper and Will Genia and James Horwill work to haul the team back to the top.

It probably doesn't help the Reds that the Force are tearing up the form book.

Three wins from five matches actually puts the Force above the Reds in the Australian Conference.

Their season was kickstarted by the first-half thrashing handed out to the Rebels in their third match and they haven't looked back, somehow taking down the Chiefs in Perth a couple of weeks ago.

Put it down to the effort of their pack, which is majorly boosted this week by the return of Ben McCalman at number eight.

Much of the talk following the Rebels thrashing was of doing it for Matt Hodgson, the Force skipper who quite clearly loves this club and feels that in return. Hodgson has been a beast this season around the ruck area and in defence, setting the tone for a pack full of physical bodies such as Wilhelm Steenkamp and Sam Wykes who are starting to dictate close contests.

It would be wrong not to mention Nathan Charles either, whose exploits should really catch the eye of Wallaby selectors.

Nick Cummins is obviously loved for his quips, but he's also the Force's best player and best finisher out on the wing.

That said, aside from The Honey Badger the Force's attack lacks sparkle, making the fewest metres and carries so far of any team in the tournament. That will have to change if they are to compete seriously for honours. But you can't deny their spirit.

Prediction: Despite the Force's form and the Reds not quite finding the right gear so far this season, Richard Graham's men should take this one by a narrow margin. Reds by five.

Reds: 15 Ben Lucas, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Pettowa Paraka, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Anthony Fainga'a, 23 Jonah Placid

Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Solomoni Rasolea, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Marcel Brache.

Date: Saturday, April 5
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 18:40 (local, 08:40 GMT)
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: James Leckie (Australia), Ian Smith (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs ToulonUlster vs Toulon Preview
Scarlets vs LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Preview
Bath vs ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Preview
Montpellier vs GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Preview
Northampton vs OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs ConnachtExeter vs Connacht Preview
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs LionsWestern Province vs Lions Preview
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki vs TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615