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Force vs Rebels
Super Rugby, 7 July, 2017
|Fulltime - Force 31, Rebels 22|
|Referee: Will Houston|
|Touch judges: Damon Murphy & Graham Cooper|
|TMO: Damien Mitchelmore|
It will be an emotionally charged encounter on Friday night when the Western Force host the Melbourne Rebels in the last ever fixture between these two franchises. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 9:55pm AEST.
A lot has been made of the ARU’s decision to cut one Australian team from the Super Rugby competition for 2018.
All we know is that it will definitely be one of these two teams – meaning this will be the last match ever played between these two franchises.
With that in mind, this could be one of the games of the season, as two teams with no finals hopes and indeed an uncertain playing future; clash in a battle of pride and solidarity in the nations North West.
For the Force, they are almost full strength, and, as the team likely to go next season, will be incredibly tough to beat in front of a raucous and loyal home crowd.
The sharp back three of Dane Haylett-Petty, Newsome and the returning Peni, combined with the consistently bruising back row of Naisarani, Ross Haylett-Petty and Wallaby debutant Richard Hardwick have been among their best this season.
Bill Meakes will also be looking to cap his best season of Super Rugby to date with a win in front of their home fans.
Where I see the Force winning this battle, however, is up front. Tatafu Polota-Nau’s scrummaging skills are no secret, and Pek Cowan seems to grow every season, but the battle between Jermaine Ainsley and the Rebels’ Toby Smith promises to be an intriguing one.
Both sides have flashy backs and an inconsistent set piece, so whoever can win the battle at scrum time will go a long way to determining the result of the match.
For the Rebels, it’s about finishing the season strongly. Disappointingly, they have only registered eight competition points this season and sit at the bottom of the Australian conference.
The loss of Sefa Naivalu makes their backline look dangerously fragile and the centre combination of Reece Hodge and Mitch Inman are going to have their work cut out for them.
These teams have met ten times with the Rebels victorious on eight occasions. The last time they met, the Rebels were victorious in one of their best games of the season. Don’t expect that script to be repeated come Friday night, however.
The Force have shown glimpses of serious potential this season, and it’s a real shame that they’re likely to disband as of next season.
They have two home games to wrap it all up, and they will want to give their incredibly loyal fans something to celebrate.
Expect Dane Haylett-Petty, Richard Hardwick and Chance Peni to have blinders as the Force take this comfortably.
Force by 12
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 9:55pm AEST.