Western Force looking forward to clash against Melbourne Rebels

By Justin Chadwick,

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    The Western Force versus Melbourne Rebels: will it be a grudge match or a love-in?

    The two sides were locked in a bitter fight for survival last year following Rugby Australia’s controversial decision to axe a franchise, with the Rebels eventually coming out on top.

    Billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest believes Rugby Australia never intended to axe the Rebels, and that the ‘selection process’ was merely a charade.

    Forrest has since launched World Series Rugby, and the breakaway competition has enjoyed some solid early success.

    A sellout crowd of 19,466 turned up for the tournament opener on May 4 when the Force defeated the Fiji Warriors 24-14.

    And 16,323 rocked up on Sunday to watch the Force beat a Tongan representative side 47-17.

    The Force’s next assignment is against the Rebels on June 9 – an intriguing match-up given the recent history between the two sides.

    When the Force were axed from Super ranks, their coach Dave Wessels and a host of the franchise’s best players made the move to the Rebels.

    Adam Coleman, Matt Philip, Billy Meakes, Richard Hardwick, Angus Cottrell, Ben Daley, Dane Haylett-Petty, Jermaine Ainsley, and Michael Ruru were among the Force players to make the switch.

    Melbourne are still in the finals picture after starting their season with five wins from their first 11 rounds, and their game against the Force comes during the international break.

    The match will be important to keep the Rebels’ non-Wallabies players match fit and sharp.

    A portion of Force fans now despise the Rebels after viewing the fight for survival as unfair.

    But others have a soft spot for the Rebels given the sheer amount of former Force players there, along with coach Wessels.

    Force captain Ian Prior said he didn’t view the upcoming match against the Rebels as a grudge match.

    “A lot of those players there are really close mates of mine, and I really support them in their careers and what they’re doing,” Prior said.

    “We went through quite a unique year last year as a group, so there were a lot of special memories off the field and on the field.

    “It’s going to be exciting to come up against them and test where we’re at as a team.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (59)

    • May 14th 2018 @ 8:57am
      ForceFan said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:57am | ! Report

      Well said Ian Prior – expresses my view precisley.
      I enjoyed watching the ex Force lads play against the Brumbies during a recent trip to Melbourne.

      However, there are may die-hard Force supporters who won’t be attending this match as to them it will be like poking an open wound.

      • May 14th 2018 @ 8:55pm
        Rhys Bosley said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:55pm | ! Report

        They should go to the match to encourage the Force to make a huge point on their behalf. The ultimate grudge match.

    • May 14th 2018 @ 11:32am
      Barry Crocker said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

      Love-in for sure given the number of ex-Force/Perth guys whi never wanted to leave in the 1st place. Everyone embraced the Rebels last year when the Force beat them in Perth, even moreso this time round as is more of a local WA Derby of sorts.
      Be good to see the Rebels play with freedom given no SR points on the line. Should be a cracker if they appoint a decent Ref to officiate & ensure players are positive at the breakdown & at scrum time.

    • May 14th 2018 @ 12:15pm
      JM said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

      Looking forward to the Rebels game. I am dissapointed in those who are planning to boycot the game. All that does is hurt the cause in making World Series Rugby successfull. I like the idea off the new rules with the scum in effort to speed up the game, but they need a bit of tweeking as I feel they are very easily exploited. It seemed like Tonga were intentionally collapsing the scrum on their feed so they could kick to ball into touch and game a heap of territory and have the line out feed as well.

    • May 14th 2018 @ 12:21pm
      Perthstayer said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

      “A portion of Force fans now despise the Rebels” Really? Not enough to sour atmosphere, especially if they don’t show up.

      Rebels game will be great chance to see the carnival atmosphere alongside some more hard nosed on field action. If the two combine well then we’ll know the true strength of WSR brand.

    • Roar Pro

      May 14th 2018 @ 1:40pm
      Crazy Horse said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

      How this is going to go is anyone’s guess. While the first two games were well attended and the Crusaders game will probably sell out, the Rebels game could go either way.

      As has been noted there are two very strong camps in the Sea of Blue. Some have a soft spot for the Rebels because of the strong Force connection. Others are extremly hostile to Victoria and the Rebels who they regard as having stolen our team and are openly stating they will not attend. Then there is the hard core Rugby supporters who’ll attend anything Rugby.

      I predict a healthy crowd but not as large as we’ll see for the other games.

    • May 14th 2018 @ 1:51pm
      Perthstayer said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

      CH – The 8,000 attending who didn’t attend last year have no agenda. Fewer will make Rebels game as Force novelty value is bound to slow, but with the incredibly cheap tickets I reckon we’ll get 12,000+.

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