Force tweak their winning formula
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Western Force will take on the reigning champion Brumbies in the franchise’s first Super Rugby AU play-off appearance this Saturday.
Following another enthralling encounter in Perth last Friday, where the Force made it three consecutive wins and sealed a historic play-off place with the 30-27 triumph over the previously undefeated Queensland Reds, coach Tim Sampson has named a similar squad for Saturday.
Argentinean international Santiago Medrano regains his starting spot at tighthead prop, while the in-form duo of Tom Robertson and Feleti Kaitu’u maintain their starting place in the front row.
In midfield, Richard Kahui moves from the wing to outside centre, with Tevita Kuridrani ruled out through suspension.
Kahui’s superbly weighted grubber kick to tee up Jordan Olowofela’s match-winning try proved a game-changer against the Reds last week and his experience will be invaluable in the heat of the semifinal.
Jake Strachan makes his first start of the 2021 campaign, as the 24-year-old is named at fullback, with Jack McGregor also making the matchday 23.
Sampson is confident Strachan and the entire squad is ready for the occasion.
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“Jake’s a very talented player, he has the ability to create something out of nothing. His nickname is ‘Silky’ for a reason,” he explained.
“It was fantastic to win at home and give our fans the opportunity to be a part of the history we created last week.
“We take momentum and belief that no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we can come away with the win. The belief has been there since Round 1, that hasn’t changed.”
Western Force: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Kyle Godwin (captain), 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Tim Anstee, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Henry Taefu, 23 Jack McGregor.
Date: Saturday, May 1
Venue: Bruce Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.45 (17.45 West Australian time; 09.45 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Amy Perrett
TMO: James Leckie