When I put my hand up to write the Preview for the Western Force V The NSW Waratahs I thought I had it covered. Then the Waratahs went out and in 30 minutes demolished the Reds and everything I was going to write went out the window.
So lets break it down
- The battle of the half backs and a new starting centre pairing for the Force
- Western Force Defence and Lineouts
- Please no kicking game between Jack Maddocks and Jono Lance
- Can the Force get that first win?
The battle of the half backs.
Jake Gordon had his first start in Super Rugby AU after recovering from a hamstring injury. Let’s be honest, with a hat trick of tries and improved speed of delivery, he made life so much easier for the young Will Harrison and his back line. Harrison has been great so far this season, a good kicker and a deceptively elusive ball runner but with Gordon the backs just all clicked.
Ian Prior is back, Captain Fantastic is ready to steer the ship for the first win and also hook up with Jono Lance again now that Jono has settled back into southern hemisphere rugby. Also Prior will relieve Lance of kicking duties as he has struggled of late and these points on the board are going to be very important like we saw against the Rebels. Prior brings the experience, knowledge and game awareness of the Western Force game plan and box kicking. Smile
This will be an interesting match up, we now have Richard Kahui, former All Black, and Kyle Godwin former Force and Brumbies player before he headed off to Ireland and played under Andy Friend’s Connacht side. This centre partnership is physically stronger than the last game of Brache and Jooste so will be interesting to see how we go against Karmichael Hunt and Lalakai Foketi. Watch out for the Kahui Stander connections.
Please no kicking game between Jack Maddocks and Jono Lance.
So the Force stretched to a 14 – 0 lead in the game at Sydney cricket ground then just before halftime conceded a try that let the Tahs back into the game with momentum. But they also realised that a kicking territory game was the way to go and the game descended to a northern hemisphere style territory game. Please for the viewing public don’t let this happen again.
I don’t think that you can turn around and say the WF defence has been poor. I think what it comes down to is the Force been out of Super Rugby for the last three years and they have not been challenged much in GRR. So defensive fitness for Super Rugby and matchday experience has been lacking. Holding the oppositions off on the line after numerous phases is something that is learned. If the Force want to get that first win, we need to improve on the above.
Western Force Forwards and Lineout
This game will be won and lost in the forwards. So I don’t know stats but the Tahs had an extra 70 kg on the Reds pack. Their rucking and clearing out was on the ball. They looked well drilled. Looked like a team that as Hooper says “ In training we are working in pods of 9 with the younger players” well drilled, urgency and hungry. Can the Waratahs put that performance back to back?
Who can stop Hooper at the break down is the next questions? Will it be Stander, Thrush, Stowers or all three.
The Force lineout in the Tahs game was just a bit off the mark. Was it the thrower was it the jumper the age-old question? It was an issue and gave away a lot of possession to the Waratahs. The Force have to find a way to improve the lineouts.
Can the Force get that elusive Super Rugby Au win against the Tahs?
Yes we can.
In Summary for the Force to win:
Win the lineouts
Clear out Hooper
No stupid mistakes
Get the ball to Ralston
Don’t kick the ball away and
Score more than the Waratahs Woohooooooooo
Western Force: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Richard Kahui, 11 Brad Lacey, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior (c), 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Henry Stowers, 5 Fergus Lee Warner, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Pek Cowan
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Tom Sheminant, 19 Johan Bardoul, 20 Ollie Atkins, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Nick Jooste, 23 Jack McGregor
Waratahs: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 James Ramm, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachie Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons (c), 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Tom Robertson
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 19 Ned Hanigan, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Joey Walton
Venue: CBUS Stadium, Gold Coast
Date Friday 14 August
Kick-off 19:05 local
Referee Nic Berry
AR1 Graham Cooper
AR2 Amy Perrett
TMO Brett Cronan