Super Rugby AU, Round 10 - Teams and Predictions
THE FINAL HURDLE: They hatched the history-making plan during the pre-season, and now the Western Force have the chance to fulfil it when they tackle the Queensland Reds at HBF Park on Friday.
The Force and Melbourne Rebels are locked in a fierce battle for third spot and a place in the Super Rugby AU play-offs.
A win over the Reds would secure the Force a finals berth for the first time in the franchise’s 16-year history.
A loss would mean a nervous wait, with the Force needing the last-placed Waratahs to upset the Melbourne Rebels in Sydney on Saturday.
The Force’s destiny is in their own hands, and the players are being urged to embrace the moment.
“We actually touched on it in a pre-season camp about this year, creating a bit of history within the squad,” Force coach Tim Sampson said.
“We reflected on that at the start of the week. Controlling those emotions is really important now.
“We don’t want to go away from focusing on what we have to do to get the win.
“When we’re back in the change rooms after the job’s done, that’s when we’ll reflect on the piece of history we’ve created.”
The Force have been in this position before.
In 2014, the Force went into the last round needing a win over the Brumbies to qualify for the Super Rugby finals, but they lost 25-47 in Canberra to narrowly miss out.
Stand-in Force skipper Kyle Godwin remembers that missed opportunity, and he’s eager to come out on top this time around.
“Hopefully tomorrow [Friday] night we can do it a bit differently,” Godwin said.
“This is one of the most important games the Force are going to be in.
“But we’re not going to shy away from that challenge. We know there’s a bit of pressure, but we’re looking forward to it and hopefully we can do WA and all the fans proud.
“Of course there’s going to be extra pressure, but we’re well aware of that. We’re super excited that hopefully we can create a bit of history for the Force.”
The unbeaten Reds have already locked up top spot and a home grand final.
But if team selection is anything to go by, they’re not taking the foot off the pedal, with the Reds recalling skipper Liam Wright, enforcer Hunter Paisami, and Fijian flyer Filipo Daugunu into the starting line-up.
The Force welcome back Irish legend Rob Kearney from an adductor injury.
We take a closer look at Round 10’s matches!
Friday, April 23:
Western Force v Reds
(HBF Park, Perth – Kick-off: 17.45; 19.45 AWST, 09.45 GMT)
The Queensland Reds have won each of their three Super Rugby AU games against the Western Force, after winning only two of their 10 meetings prior in Super Rugby (D1, L7).
The Western Force have won each of their last two Super Rugby matches – each by a margin of one point; they will be aiming for three wins in succession for just the third time in their franchise history (W5 – March to April in 2014 and W3 in March 2007).
Western Force have scored the opening try of the game only once in their last four home games in Super Rugby; all four of those games were won by the team to log the first try of the game on the day.
The Reds have scored 13 tries in the final quarters of their games in the 2021 Super Rugby AU campaign, the most of any team in the competition and more than twice as many as Western Force (5).
Western Force duo Fergus Lee-Warner (10 carries, 10 tackles) and Kyle Godwin (10 carries, 13 tackles) are the only players to have made 10+ carries and 10+ tackles per game in the 2021 Super Rugby AU season.
@rugby365com: Reds by four points.
Western Force: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin (captain), 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Tim Anstee, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Fergus Lee-Warner, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Richard Kahui, 23 Jack McGregor.
Reds: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright (captain), 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Angus Scott-Young, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Feao Fotuaika.
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Richie Asiata, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Ryan Smith, 20 Seru Uru, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Josh Flook, 23 Ilaisa Droasese.
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Reuben Keane
TMO: Brett Cronan
Saturday, April 24:
Waratahs v Melbourne Rebels
(Western Sydney Stadium, Parramatta – Kick-off: 19.45; 09.45 GMT)
The Rebels have won three of their last four Super Rugby matches against the Waratahs (L1), after winning only two of their 17 meetings prior (L15).
The Waratahs will be looking to avoid becoming the fifth team to complete a Super Rugby season without a win (Bulls in 2002, Lions in 2010, Western Force in 2020 Super Rugby AU and Chiefs in 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa).
The Waratahs have scored the opening try of the game in five of their last seven Super Rugby games against the Rebels.
The Rebels have made eight offloads per game this Super Rugby AU season, the most of any team in the competition and two more per game than they have conceded
The Waratahs’ duo Ben Donaldson (6/6) and Tane Edmed (2/2) are the only players to have attempted multiple kicks at goal this Super Rugby AU season and maintained a 100 percent success rate.
@rugby365com: Waratahs by two points.
Waratahs: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 James Ramm, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Will Harris, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Max Douglas, 4 Hugh Sinclair, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 David Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Joe Cotton, 17 Te Tera Faulkner, 18 Darcy Breen, 19 Jeremy Williams, 20 Michael Wood, 21 Charlie Gamble, 22 Jack Grant, 23 Tane Edmed.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Tom Pincus, 14 Frank Lomani, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Campbell Magnay, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Ross Haylett- Petty, 4 Robert Leota, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Pone Faamausili, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Joshua Kemeny, 22 Carter Gordon, 23 George Worth.
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Amy Perrett, Brett Cronan
TMO: James Leckie
Source: AAP & SANZAAR
*Statistical information provided by Stats Perform