Season Review - a Force still lacking out west - Green and Gold Rugby
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Season Review – a Force still lacking out west

Season Review – a Force still lacking out west

 

It’s getting late, I look outside my office window to the west, an unobstructed view across Kings Park, the western suburbs (for those who reside in the East Coast, the Western Suburbs is not a derogatory term) and out to the beautiful Western Australian coast line.

The sunset is terribly pretty I think to myself, hoping this serenity will inspire me to write this season review. Nothing. The clock has hit the hour of 6pm – arghh more coffee will do the trick.

After battling through the fine spread of Nespresso pods, I finally return to my office, recharged with caffeine, looking to be inspired to get this review started. “Sigh”

They say writer’s block is never easily overcome—like stopping Richie McCaw breaching the offside law at the breakdown.

 


 

It’s been a rough and difficult season for all supporters, and indeed the players, coaches and staff of the club. Where do I start?

It almost seems the Force season played to a script.

Scene 1: lose the first game at home in a tight contest to set the tone for the rest of the season.

Scene 2: play decent rugby in the first halves of three tough games in NZ in a row; but get well beaten in the second halves, including suffering rugby murder against the Chiefs.

Scene 3. by contrast play good rugby in the second halves in three of the last four games, but lose anyway.

Murdered by the Chiefs in second half

 


 

The performance of the Force in 2016 has been well documented in the media and by the GAGR podcast – a.k.a the East Coast Elitist Club, but we have to look at the factual reality of the Force season.

Firstly they snagged only two wins for the season and did not win a game at home. For any professional sporting club, this is simply not good enough. Even their bunnies, the Waratahs, beat them.

Even their bunnies, the Waratahs, beat them

Secondly, the Force have lost the autonomy and now lie under the auspices of the ARU. The reality of centralisation of control in politics keeps us awake at night in WA – and now it is the same in rugby.

Thirdly, and probably the most prominent issue, was the termination of yet another unsuccessful coach, and the reasons for it.

Fourthly, like many seasons before, the Force lost players in key positions to injury.

If these generalities were negative, their particulars were unimpressive also: they scored the fewest tries in the competition due to a combination of being the worst, or near-worst Super Rugby team at making breaks, beating defenders, getting over the gain-line and turning their own ball over.

The also missed more tackles and lost more lineouts than most other teams.

Not many scenes like this – after beating the Reds

 


 

The Positives

It is easy to be ultra-critical of the Force but as a passionate supporter of the club and WA Rugby, I see positives that can be taken away from this season.

Matt Hodgson has committed to another year at the club. Hodgo is the cornerstone of the Western Force, each and every game he plays his heart out! Although age and time isn’t on his side, he’s consistently ranked amongst the best loose forwards in the competition.

He missed four games this season and still finished second in the competition for tackles with 175 and first in tackles per game averaging 15.9. Hodgo is critical for the culture of this club, and his presence at the Force at this time of transition is invaluable!

We saw Dane Haylett-Petty and Adam Coleman debut for the Wallabies this season. What an impact these two guys had.

 Dane Haylett-Petty – best Western Force player

Haylett-Petty was so impressive he will be a permanent fixture in the Wallabies’ team.  Coleman who had limited game time was also dynamic and I expect him to be in the Wallabies squad for the Rugby Championship.

After Haylett-Petty returned to the Force from international duties he picked up exactly where he left off: displaying his dominance in last three remaining fixtures of the Super Rugby season. His massive year finished with him ranked first for run metres (1,238), first in carries (200), and fourth in defenders beaten with 54.

I have huge wraps on Jono Lance—his kicking game is superb and for a small bloke he doesn’t mind taking the ball to the line. Unfortunately he was injured for the majority of the season, and whilst Peter Grant did a decent job, the absence of Lance was a major contributing factor to an unsuccessful year.

Luke Morahan had a good season  but did not get enough ball and young Harry Scoble showed that he is on track to be a cracking Super Rugby hooker.

 Jonno Lance – deserves huge wraps

 


 

But as Newton said with every action there is an equal reaction. The Force said goodbye to two key players from the roster. I’ve had the pleasure to play rugby with and against Perth product, Kyle Godwin, at schoolboys, club and rep level and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

And a close friend of mine, Chris Alcock, has signed with the Brumbies for next season. He will have a big assignment helping their backrow to cover for David Pocock.

Kyle Godwin – all the best to him – he did his bit

As it stands the Western Force are coachless with little direction. Like each and every supporter, I’m sure, I hope for a premier coach to come on board. The reality of modern day rugby is that a premier coach will attract premium players.

A massive shout out must go to the ever so loyal “Sea of Blue”. With them, this club is still in with a fighting chance.

You guys are the most passionate supporters out of all the Australian Super Rugby Franchises.

Onto bigger and better things next season!

Go the Force!

 

Statistics courtesy of Opta Sports

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  • Lee Grant

    Good season review Ben.

    People don’t realise how difficult it is for the Force to attract players from the east.

    Even though they are grown-ups, being away from their families, or those of their partners or wives, is a factor that they will take into account when they decide.to go there, or not.

    And you can’t blame young players, like a Pocock, JOC and Jones, amongst others, for taking the opportunity of getting a professional contract before their time, then moving elsewhere.

    It’s a chicken or egg thing: players want to go to a strong club but to have a strong club in Perth you need strong players from elsewhere.

    And not to the same point, but you can’t blame local player, Kyle Godwin, for moving to a better-performing club after sterling service since he was a teenager.
    .

  • Rebels3

    I don’t think all is doom and gloom moving forward for the force.

    The loss of Alcock and Godwin will be a blow but the signing of Meeks is some shrewd business. They have also been heavily linked with Curtis Rona (who is a former force junior) will add some strike power out wide. I’d like to see them try and return the honey badger and lure either Ben Lucas or nick white back from France to play no9.

    With regards to hodgson I think it’s great he has decided to stay, however it’s time for him to give the captaincy up. He’s a tough and courageous player, however I do believe he has a detrimental effect of the teams style. I see correlation between him and Phil waugh’s effect of the waratahs going back 5/6 years. It’s time for some positive intent and someone else to carry the burden of the team.

    Some luck with injuries will be a nice change for them. Angus cottrell has had some shocking luck as he’s potentially a wallaby. A backrow of mccalman, hodgson and cotteral is as good as any in the Australian conference.

    coleman is a damn good player, scoble looks like he’s more than super rugby quality and decision to play RHP was the step in the right direction.

    Please let Peter grant go, he offers nothing. Add brache to that list (I’m pretty sure he hold the most super rugby starts for no tries and he’s a winger, something like 30 games until he scored against the sunwolves, a hat trick at that). I see some potential in masirewa.

    I’m expecting a better year from the force that the 2 wins supplied this year. The Australian conference next year will be very close with not much between the 5 teams.

  • John Tynan

    Good write up mate. 6 years in WA Country rugby, and the Force are my second team, so it hurts to see them and the Reds both so poor. As you say, it comes down to coach and recruiting/retention. Good luck.

  • Tim

    I watched alot of their games. Western Force really stuck it to a lot of the teams until the 60 minute mark. Alot of the NZ would only be in front by a few points then it would just blow out by 3 or 4 tries. Im not to sure if this is the lack in depth with the substitutes coming on for both teams, Or if it was match fitness. Their back-line needs work they could have scored more trys but just lack of skill or ability let them down. I was very pleased with the force last game against the brumbies in fact they should have won it but just poor choices led to them loosing.

    • Bay35Pablo

      Both. Poor depth and Foley doesn’t seem to cover fitness well. Tahs dropped off in that with Hickey and Foles, and Cheik had to flog them back into shape.

  • Muzz

    I reckon the Force will be ok. They do struggle for depth but they’ve got some bloody good players and given the right coach they can be moulded into a competitive outfit. And their under 20’s and WA schools sides have some top quality players coming through.

  • Andrew Thornley

    Fair enough for a rugby team to be in the West but it’s tough when competing against the codes more familiar in those parts. I am from Western Sydney and am furious at the lack of promotion of Union among the huge Pacific populace living in the more affordable suburbs of Western Sydney. So Waratahs – get your act together and look beyond Sydney University. Or what about this idea: keep the Western Force but I reckon ditch the current Super Rugby format – too much in favour of the Africans (as Spiro has shown) – and introduce a trans-Tasman competition with, say, seven teams from both countries

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