Planet Rugby

Preview: Force v Reds

03rd July 2014 15:11

Share:

Reds v Force Super Rugby

Match-winner: Jayden Hayward

Two evenly-matched teams go head-to-head in Perth as the Force take on the Reds knowing a win is vital if they are to reach the playoffs.

The Force will be smarting after last weekend's shock 40-14 defeat to the Blues on home turf; they had lost only one game in Perth this season before Saturday, and nor had Sir John Kirwan's men won away from home in over 15 attempts.

Things were, to all intents and purposes, over after just 18 minutes - the Blues had a bonus point in the bag, and the Force had barely touched the ball. There was no sign of the watertight defence that has characterised their efforts and galvanised their squad in Super Rugby 2014, and when they did get some pill, it was with unimaginative labour that they tried to attack.

Those efforts may still yield rewards in the form of a spot in the playoffs, a scenario most on the outside would have sniggered at during pre-season, the Force never having finished higher than ninth place since their inception in 2006.

But inspired by skipper Matt Hodgson - who has six tries and astonishing, competition-leading (by a mile) 217 tackles to his name - and Nick "Honey Badger" Cummins, the plucky Perth franchise have left plenty eating their words.

Indeed, for the Reds - resurgent last week as they aim to close the book on a season to forget - the Force have often proved a frustrating adversary, the Queensland side failing to register a win against their rivals in the past four times of asking.

Richard Graham's men are blighted by injuries - most notably to Will Genia and Quade Cooper - and a malaise that seemed to have swept through and crippled the red ranks, before the shackles were released last week and the backs ran riot in Melbourne.

While the Force have to win, as they did in Canberra courtesy of a stunning, last-gasp Jayden Hayward try, to keep their hopes of a playoff alive, there is little at stake for the visitors besides pride, and a chance for the Wallaby hopefuls and contenders to get one over on a Test rival.

However, James Horwill and co will be hurting just as much if not more than their hosts this weekend after a disastrous campaign, not to mention their recent record against the Force, and will take great delight in playing the role of party-poopers.

Graham brings in Lachie Turner, who played well at AAMI Park after replacing the stricken Dom Shipperley, on the wing while impressive youngster Samu Kerevi starts in midfield, and Ben Daley wins a place at loosehead prop.

The hosts are also without their first choice half-back pairing as Alby Mathewson and Sias Ebersohn nurse injuries, though they welcome back Cummins, and field an all-Wallaby back-row as Hugh McMenamin and Ben McCalman join Hodgson.

Form: The Force have won two of their last five games, beating lowly South African franchises the Cheetahs and the Lions, but going down to the Stormers and Crusaders away from home before Saturday's Blues mauling.

The Reds, meanwhile, recorded only their fifth victory of the season against the Rebels last weekend, and the first time they have notched back-to-back wins having beaten the Highlanders in the previous round.

Previous results:
2014:Force won 32-29 in Brisbane
2013: Both teams drew 11-11 in Perth
2013: Force won 19-12 in Brisbane
2012: Force won 45-19 in Perth
2012: Reds won 35-20 in Brisbane

Prediction: A hard-fought contest between two evenly-matched Aussie teams. But the Force, with so much at stake, will come through. Force by 5.

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne vs Montpellier20:45
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle vs Toulouse14:45
Lyon vs Brive18:30
Oyonnax vs Stade Francais18:30
Castres vs Bay Of Plenty18:30
Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , August 29
Pumas vs Sharks19:10
Saturday , August 30
Griquas vs Cheetahs15:00
Blue Bulls vs Western Province17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Friday , August 29
Wellington vs ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Preview
Saturday , August 30
Counties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay14:35
Southland vs Otago17:35
North Harbour vs Waikato19:35
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs Tasman16:35
Wednesday, September 3
Manawatu vs Bay Of Plenty19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle
Montpellier 20 - 17 GrenobleMontpellier vs Grenoble Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Blue Bulls 30 - 25 Eastern Province KingsBlue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Western Province 27 - 14 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
Sharks 19 - 16 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Northland 35 - 5 WellingtonNorthland vs Wellington Report
Counties Manukau 29 - 25 OtagoCounties Manukau vs Otago Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse 35 - 6 CastresToulouse vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 33 - 15 GriquasPumas vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 27 - 58 CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Report
Hawkes Bay 29 - 26 TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Report
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00