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The Western Force come up against one of their toughest oppositions yet, as they host the Hong Kong Dragons. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the game from 8:30pm AEST.
It’s quite easy to overestimate the Force’s achievements on the field. While three from five sounds pretty good, you have to be sceptical with regards to their opposition.
These next two games are a great opportunity for them to hit the NRC on the front foot, with a pair of wins.
While the Westerners began the series on the right note against “B” sides from Fiji and Tonga, when playing the Rebels and Crusaders, the first real opposition they had, the shine was quickly taken off as they were outscored 28-12 and 44-8 to the team who they lost their Super Rugby licence to, and last year’s premiers.
Three weeks later, the men in blue put on a show in the wet against a XV from Apia, Samoa, winning 33 points to five.
Hong Kong won’t be any blowover. Only recently, their national team, the Dragons, won their way to the RWC repechage, after winning the Asia Rugby Championship and crushing the Cook Islands 77-3 over a home-and-away series.
The squad looks very different to the one which secured the country’s place alongside Canada, Germany and another opponent, at the RWC repechage, but there’s still no doubt they could cause some trouble.
One of the key men for the Western Force, Andrew Deegan, will sit out this game after a good performance in the Super Rugby XV last friday, one of a raft of changes to the West Australians.
Harry Scoble, Markus Vanzati, Kieran Longbottom, Fergus Lee-Warner, Rodney Iona and George Pisi are the beneficiaries of a string of injuries and restings, which mean Andrew Deegan, Harrison Lloyd, Feleti Kaitu’u, Tom Sheminant, Chris Alcock and Masivesi Dakuwaqa will all watch from the sidelines.
If the Dragons want to win, they have to be responsible for most of the early points in this one, while the Force will want to win and win well.
Prediction: Expect the Westerners to be too strong in a fast paced game, with possibly a few power tries, king hits and sublime offloads.
Force by 7.