Western Force will be looking to back up last weekend’s snatch-and-grab win over the Reds when they host the Cheetahs at nib Stadium tonight. We’ll have live scores from 9.45pm AEDT.
The Force will be in a confident mood after their beating of favorites the Reds, who simply did not have enough in the tank to combat an energetic and desperate Force.
The Western Australian didn’t have the easiest of starts to the Super Rugby season, having started their campaign against the Rebels in week one.
They then travelled all the way to South Africa to face the Bulls and debutants the Kings, only to come back and face the Reds last week.
I doubt anyone gave the Force any chance of upsetting the Reds.
The Cheetahs on the other hand, had a similar start to the tournament with a home loss to the Sharks.
They then immediately left for the antipodes and recieved an absolute thrashing at the hands of the Chiefs, and would have been excused for capitulating for the rest of their tour.
The Highlanders were in for a shock as the Cheetahs, notorious for having a leaky defense, stood up to the South Islanders and double-teamed every potential ball carrier with a physicality the Stormers are known for.
Counter attacks were their preferred way of scoring and Sarel Pretorius the catalyst.
A Waratah team with new coach and new intentions this past weekend left the stadium disappointed as a tiring Cheetah team hung on for dear life to secure their second win on the tour.
Both teams are perennial under achievers, both teams are regular bottom feeders, and yet both teams have the ability to cause major upsets.
It shows there is potential, perhaps the biggest challenge for these two teams, are financial, a lack of superstars in each team proves that.
However, both teams play positive rugby, the Force proved it this past weekend when they beat the Reds, and the Cheetahs is often touted by neutral supporters as their favorite “other” team.
What can we expect this weekend?
Sias Ebersohn seems to enjoy his stint with the Force, he had a good start against the Bulls and controlled play well and his performance against the Reds will just add to that confidence.
Alby Mathewson is directing play well, and with Mafi the try scoring machine the Force has some danger out wide.
I expect the breakdown to be the key feature of this game, whoever rules there will gain the necessary momentum to win.
The Cheetahs are on their last leg of their tour but I expect them to front up defensively and again score off counter attacks. Sarel Pretorius and Johan Goosen has been in good form, but they are yet to show their worth with set-phase ball
The back row of the Cheetahs has been their mainstay this tour, it will be interesting to see how they will fair against McCalman, Alcock et al.
Their last encounter in Bloemfontein ended in a narrow win 17-13 to the Cheetahs, both teams have travelled considerably.
Will fatigue be the catalyst for one of these teams, will the Force be renewed by their win over the reds, or will the Cheetahs end their tour with yet another win?