Super Rugby Preview: Force v Waratahs - Green and Gold Rugby
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Super Rugby Preview: Force v Waratahs

Super Rugby Preview: Force v Waratahs

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


  1. The battle of the half backs and a new starting centre pairing for the Force
  2. Western Force Defence and Lineouts
  3. Please no kicking game between Jack Maddocks and Jono Lance
  4. 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

Ian Prior clears

Ian Prior clears

Centre Pairing

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.

Jack Maddocks runs it.

Jack Maddocks runs it.

Force Defence

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


Get the ball to Ralston

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
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
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

  • Dally M

    Thanks for the write up Karen.

    I love your optimism!

  • Gun

    Thanks for the write up Karen.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Nice Write up Karen and some big calls there. I certainly agree that their game will be helped by less kicking BUT, and yes a big BUT, if the kicking is accurate and planed well rather than the normal “kick and hope” then it can be a very good weapon. I think last time the issue was more that the kicks were not accurate and did not add to the tactical game. I was very impressed with Gordon last week and if he fires again this week I think the Tahs will again go very well. I do think Kahui will bring a defensive plan that the Reds never seemed to have last week though so that will help. Not so sure on the lineouts. For all his faults Simmons does a good job there and I think the Force will get parity at best. I am certainly hoping for a Force win but while my heart cries out for this, my head is saying Tahs by 8

  • UTG

    ‘Grats Hoops on 150 Super appearances at just 28. One of the greats.

    • Nutta

      It is hard to argue with that.

  • Timbo

    As much as i really want the Force to win a game in SRA, I don’t want it to be against the Tahs.
    After their showing last week, Maddocks will be playing with confidence, Gordon will be hard to contain and the back row will be pests. Dempsey was gagging for a try last week so he will be frothing to get over the chalk.
    Staniforth is going to starch up the scrum over Hanigan who will come on early in the second half.

    Think the Tahs will have this but The Force will push them. Moreso than the Red last week…

    • laurence king

      I think that the Force forwards will show a little more starch that what the Reds displayed last week.

  • Reds Revival

    I think the elephant in the room is the ‘Tahs consistency. They looked like world beaters against a very poor Reds, but as we have seen a few times now, the team coming out of the bye has a definite advantage.
    Considering the improvements the Force have made in recent weeks, I’m tipping an upset in a closely fought contest.

    • Brisneyland Local

      100% agree. THe Reds are the same to a degree. But the tahs inconsistency is their consistency. Well that and their apathy

    • Huw Tindall

      Think you nailed it RR – consistency, do the Tahs have it? If so they should be favourites by <7 or so. I do like the Drive midfield of Lance/Kahui/Godwin though. That's a very experienced and defensively sound outfit there. No easy metres for the Tahs through that channel.

  • JJ

    Great write-up Karen. The Force have been close in 3 out of 4 games, so I think they are overdue for a win. The Tahs dont travel well in away games and they have to fly up from Sydney, while the Force have a short ride on a team bus.

  • Nutta

    Cheers Karen

    I get the feeling this game will be more about the Tarts than the Forcies. What I mean there is that the Forcies won’t be too variable. They will hassle, irritate, do some basics well but they will be largely predictable and solid. A good bangers and mash pub-feed.

    But regarding the Tarts, Christ knows what we will get. They are bloody talented and have all the guns, whistles, talent etc, but they are also inconsistent, young, brash and I get the feeling they are flat-track bullies to an extent.

    If the Tarts are the real deal then they will start with a maelstrom of intensity and precision and the game will be over in 15-20min. If not, they will stagger around and allow the Forcies to make a game of it through belligerence.

    If I’m the Tarts coaching crew I am making sure my team take that field ready to dead-set absolutely explode for the first 15min and sweep the game away. They must be really clinical and cold and focus on absolute speed & class execution. Their challenge here is to be 100% professional.

    If I’m the Forcies, I’m going out to absolutely unsettle everything the Tarts try to do for the first 15min. Spoil everything. Disrupt everything. Upset the delicate little petals in sky-blue jerseys and then see where that then allows you to exploit their immaturity.

    The game will be decided by the 15min mark with either a Tarts run wild or the Forcies turning it into a bunfight and so developing an evens chance at stealing a win they should not ever have really had a shot at.

    Forcies by 3pts.

    And congratulations M.Hooper. Love him or hate him that’s a massive accomplishment and testimony to his professionalism.

    • Ads

      My tip is thrush to get a card for a hit on Hooper then the flood gates open.

      • Nutta

        Nah Thrush is too smart for that.

        I would say it will be more of a wrestle over the sideline with a hand in the face on Swinton by Thrush early. Then there will be some up close communications and a bit of red-faces over the next 10min. Thrush will push the point with a few jersey pull-punches here and there (it is AFL country after all) and then Swinton will then either unleash the air-swings or try for a blatant late & off-the-ball clean-up 5min later and so cop the card…

        Not that I have any experience with that sort of childish provocateur behaviours…

        • laurence king

          Obviously, you’ve seen it happen a few times. Lol

        • Nutta

          Yes yes. I have witnessed such tomfoolery. Couldn’t possibly condone it.

        • laurence king

          Who would even suggest it

        • Nutta

          Yes i think he would

    • Keith Butler

      Would make my evening to see the Force turn the Tahs over but I just can’t see it happening. Just hope it’s a good game. For a bit of biffo, how about Thrush v Swinton? JT by an untechnical knockout. Rebs v Reds, my heart says Rebs but I reckon they could be on the end of some payback after the Reds dismal performance last week.

    • Brisneyland Local

      100% agree.

  • This isn’t a match preview, it’s a Force preview

    • Perth girl

      Makes a change from a Eastern States based preview!

    • Brisneyland Local

      I dont have a problem with that. We have a lady actively contributing. Like Eloise, SFR, KAte Elizabeth and others we want to see more of it.

  • Tah Tragic

    While I agree there has been too much kicking I have to admit, as a Tahs fan, that I’m enjoying having Maddock’s boot at the back. After years of Foley we finally have backs (with Harrison) that can kick the ball more than 30 meters. We finally have a viable exit strategy from our own 22.

    • Nutta

      That’s a tad unfair. The Tarts had an exit strategy. It was just that between Foleys short kicking and Beales sideways running the exit strategy was simply $hit.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Pure gold old boy. Couldnt have written it better.

      • Tah Tragic

        “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally measure the results” Winston Churchill

  • idiot savant

    Thanks Karen. As much as Id love to see the Force get up, I think the gap in class will see the Tahs do this easily. The Tahs annihilation of the Reds has now given them the confidence to play quick ball movement rugby combined with rush defence which, given their depth of talent, will be too much for the Force. I feel the only chance the Force will have to win a game in this competition will be against the Reds.

  • IIPA

    Anyone know much about Jake Strachan ?
    I thought Jack McGregor been pretty good, provides some spark that is a little lacking in this Force backline.

    Godwin and Kahui looks strong on paper but they need a good 60% lift in performance from what I’ve seen so far before it looks like 2015 for those two.

  • Moz

    Well done Karen, and after reading that a couple of times, I don’t think that was a biased write-up at all.
    It’ll even out anyway if Kearns is commentating during the match!
    Go the Force!!!

    • GoMelbRebels

      God, I hope he’s not! Go Force!

  • Hoss

    Hi Karen,

    Welcome aboard and thanks for your contribution.

    Much like your team, it was a brave & optimistic piece, woven with a silky thread of ‘hope’ through out. However, much like a rabbit on the New England Highway as a fully loaded b-dubble bares down on you at a ‘speed-limited’ (yeah right) 100km hour, ‘hope’ is ultimately of little protection as bits fly in every direction and all that remains after the carnage is a score board that reads God’s Chosen Ones – Waratah’s 35-ish – Force 13 ish.

    ‘Hope’ should remain in its two domains – religion and beauty products, on the field of battle NSW class will shine through.

    Go you good things.

    • onlinesideline

      LOL – ‘Hope’ should remain in its two domains – religion and beauty products”
      where on earth do you get these from ?

      BTW – thanks for the graphic murder scene. Im just waking up.

      • Hoss

        I don’t feel sorry for you as you walk the streets of Budapest taking in the sights………

        My stuff is mostly lifted from Nutta. We have a deal, i get to use his stuff for free and in return i dont publish ‘those’ photos.

        • Nutta
        • onlinesideline

          Think whatever about him – If I have half this guys energy and cojones at plus 70 I will be happy – Sans the HAIR fantasy of living in some kind of – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly western or being Mr Purple from Reservoir Dogs.
          If he just cuts his hair he is a shoe in for 2020. Then again with Bidens gibberish, I think the Donald is a shoe in anyhow.

        • Nutta

          Dude, if you are comparing your happiness with his then it’s safe to assume your happiness (or lack of it as the case may be) at +70yrs will be firmly contained within your own bubble of senility. His happiness exists within the bubble of self-fulfilling love and sycophants he surrounds himself with. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – for him.

          But the impact on the rest of us poor bastards who must both share the planet with him, but do so without the buffers of cash cushioning our lived experience, is something I feel we could well do without. Even if he does get his face on Mt Rushmore and get a Middle East Peace Deal named after him.

          But I’m all for Trump vs Palmer jelly-wrestling on FuxSport17 (or maybe ObscureSportsWeekly – TheO-Cho).

        • onlinesideline

          Energy yes, happiness ……. errrr nahhhh thanks.

          When it comes to my hair I have standards.
          You better get used to him because hes gonna be around for as Georgie Gregan says “4 moreeee yearsss”. Hell he may even ammend the constitution, it could be 8.

          Mt Rushmore – lololol – the guy is too much.

        • Nutta

          I shave my head. More honest.

        • onlinesideline

          You should have had a scalp reduction. Just closes up the bald patch. You could have had hair like the Donald. 6 partings on one side and super glue on the other.

        • Keith Butler

          Need to be carved on Mt Everest to get his massive ego in.

        • Nutta

          You’re not Mr. Purple. Some guy on some other job is Mr. Purple. Your Mr. PINK.

        • onlinesideline

          Classic scene.

          That ear cutting scene v the death by baseball bat in the desert scene in “Casino” movie still gives me chills. This stufff goes on daily all over the world.

        • Keith Butler

          No smoke without fire as they say.

    • Nutta

      Thoughts & Prayers.

    • Mate, you underestimate the juggernaut that is the Force.

      A united force of dark blue beauty, even more so alongside the fading blue of NSW petals. (Copyright Nutta to I believe).
      The behemoth in motion will be seen and…

      ahh ffs…Tahs by 12.

      • Nutta

        ‘…delicate little petals…’

        • didnt actually want to plagarise, apologies

        • Hoss

          Haters gonna hate, Tah’s gonna star.

        • *mumble*

        • Nutta

          I was waiting for the 3rd line – the poetry

        • Hoss

          There was a side from West Nantucket
          Whom Clyne and co decided to ….

        • Yowie

          I’m hanging out to see how you end this limerick with:

          “but the fans all took it in their stride and didn’t even grind a massive axe about it for ages”

          A challenge of rhyme and rhythm at the best of times.

        • But the West liked their New Order and shutdown the border, told RA and east to go suckit.
          Best I can do :P

        • Hoss

          They took it in their stride,
          did their bit for rugby to survive
          For RA was a mere doddle compared to Chairman Clive

        • Brisneyland Local

          You just have to Shake it off mate!

        • Hoss

          Whats the weather up there in far northern NSW – for tonight’s game ?? Another weekend, another east coast low down here, So much bloody erosion the Ponderosa will be beach front in another few weeks, which will shock the living shit out of the livestock, but may temporarily help property values. Suddenly i’ll be sitting on 250 acres of absolute beach front.

        • Brisneyland Local

          The weather was great. But alas didnt help the Force. Your beloved thas managed to prevail.

        • Nutta

          Plagiarism – much like theft – implies that the said item had some inherent value in the first place. Don’t let the heady confabulation and scintillating repartee witnessed across this site of ill-repute con you otherwise.

    • Keith Butler

      Revelations 6:8

      I looked and behold a pale blue horse and it’s rider was Hoss and the Tahs were following close behind.

      Unfortunately, they only had authority over NSW so instead of blood, sword and general nastiness the force was not with them so they got a mild shoeing from the men from WA.

      • Nutta

        Ahhh, images then of pretty blue uniforms on horses?

        Perhaps then ‘half a league onward… into the jaws of death… rode the six hundred’…?

        • “on horses”, is that like kiwis on sheep?

        • Yowie

          Ewes to right of them,
          Ewes to left of them,
          Ewes in front of them
          Flash’d all their sabres bare,…

        • A mental image I would prefer not to recall

    • Brisneyland Local

      If it was in another weeks time, I would agree. You know what your beloved Tahs are like after a thumping great win. Inconsistent. They are more likely to blow this out of their ass then any other game this year!

      • Hoss

        G’Day big unit. Yep, said yesterday to KARL it’s a slippery slope backing my beloved two weeks in a row and a ‘special’ to lose after such a good outing last week. Welcome to the life of a Tah’s fan post- 2014.

  • ACS

    Just one thing Karen
    I think you got the Pack weights reversed the Reds out weighed the Tahs by around 70kgs

  • laurence king

    Thanks Karen, great write up. This game may tell us whether the Tahs game against the Reds was as good as it looked. And I’m especially interested in the outcome of the battle in the centres.

  • onlinesideline

    Ive said this a couple of times. I find it fascinating that each week, despite there only being 5 teams, and only 2 matches, somehow people have adjusted to this smaller comp reality and can still find the matchups exciting. One observation is that 4 out of the 5 teams are playing each week. Yes they may be playing aussie teams, but the fact is YOUR team is playing and you can still support your team. To me it really begs the question how much we need the kiwis. Just bring in a fijian team, one islander team, both based in OZ and 7 teams would be absolutely fine. If they wanted to make it 8, I suppose the Japs. It would be an absolutely great comp. Im preparing for this because I tip the kiwis are going to walk, there will be a mini cold war and once their egos thaw after a couple of years and they see our success and broadcast money, they’ll come a knockin and say “Only joking bro, cant ya take a joke, eh ?”

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    If this game was played in Perth, I think the Force would win it. Playing in QLD will be difficult especially after the bye and how well the Tah’s played last week.

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Physical Education teacher, fan engagement enthusiast, Western Force and Leinster Rugby fan and also an advocate for women in sport.

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