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Preview: Reds v Western Force

15th March 2013 10:11

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Luke Morahan; Pek Cowan reds v force

Reds: Chasing win number four

The Reds are chasing their fourth straight Super Rugby victory on Saturday when they take on the winless Western Force in Brisbane.

The Queenslanders' opening round defeat seems a distant memory as the 2011 champions look to pile pressure on Aussie conference leaders, the Brumbies, when they return to Suncorp Stadium

The hosts have won 23 of their past 26 matches at their home fortress, and with the Force yet to taste victory in the Sunshine State, those impressive figures could very well change to 24 from 27.

The Force, however, did get the better of their Aussie rivals last time out when they ran away with a comprehensive 45-19 victory at nib Stadium in Perth.

But much has changed since then. For one, the Force coach in charge back then (Richard Graham) is now with the Reds and the Wallaby scrum-half who was meant to sign with the men from the west is returning from injury and set to provide the missing spark in Queensland's backline.

Indeed, Will Genia's comeback match has overshadowed the suspension of winger Digby Ioane, who will miss the match following an off-field misdemeanour.

The return of the talented scrum-half comes at a timely point in Queensland's Super Rugby campaign with the sixh-placed Reds aiming for maximum points in order to cut the Brumbies lead to a solitary point (and hope Jake White's troops leave Durban empty-handed when they face the Sharks).

With the Force's defence currently the worst in the competition this season, the Reds may just get their wish. But the visitors showed against the Bulls that they can be a competitive unit for 60 of the 80 minutes, and won't roll over so easily.

If they can keep it up for the full length of Saturday's derby encounter... we might just have a game on our hands.

Prediction: Stranger things have happened, but we just don't see an upset here. Reds by 14!

The teams:

Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Ed Quirk, 5 Ed O'Donoghue, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Nick Frisby, 21 Mike Harris, 22 Aidan Toua.

Western Force: 15 Will Tupou, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Alfie Mafi, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Richard Brown, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Hugh McMeniman, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan (c).
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Phoenix Battye, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 Mick Snowden, 21 Junior Rasolea, 22 Jayden Hayward.

Date: Saturday, 16 March
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19:40
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffman (Australia), Matt O'Brien (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

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PosTeamPPts
1Sharks831
2Brumbies825
3Chiefs825
4Waratahs824
5Western Force823
6Crusaders822
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8Highlanders719
9Bulls919
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PosTeamPPts
1Brumbies825
2Waratahs824
3Western Force823
4Reds816
5Melbourne Rebels816
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1Chiefs825
2Crusaders822
3Hurricanes821
4Blues816
5Highlanders615
South African Conference
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PosTeamPPts
1Sharks831
2Bulls919
3Lions916
4Stormers810
5Cheetahs99