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
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
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
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
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
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
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615