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The Western Force conclude their Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament with a trip to Auckland to take on a Blues outfit aiming to go one step further. Follow along with this second match of a Saturday triple-header with live scores on The Roar from 5:05pm (AEST).
A win is all the Blues need to confirm their spot in the competition final – and, more likely than not, hosting rights as well. After missing the Super Rugby Aotearoa final by the slimmest of margins, the Aucklanders have made every post a winner these last four weeks.
They’re yet to really be threatened by an Australian side, a 31-24 win over the Reds last week as close as anyone has got. With All Blacks duo Hoskins Sotutu and Akira Ioane back into the fold, the Blues will back themselves to the hilt to do what they need to do, though prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi is a big absentee with a knee concern.
In a dark few weeks for Australian rugby, the Force have provided a bright spot, though the facts remain they are 0-4 ahead of a clash with the competition pacesetter. Nevertheless, Tim Sampson’s charges have proved they well and truly belong back on the rugby circuit, having been revived in 2020.
Taking a bonus point off the Crusaders in Christchurch last week was a mighty accomplishment, and the Hurricanes in Round 3 is the only time the Force have been dominated in this competition. Captain Ian Prior returns to the starting XV in place of scrumhalf Thomas Cubelli (toe), while Rob Kearney is also back in the team, though he’ll start on the bench.
The Force deserve to sign off as winners in 2021; however, they could hardly face a more difficult task than battling the Blues at a venue in Eden Park that has long been a graveyard for Australian rugby.
Kick-off: 5:05pm (AEST)
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Live stream: Stan Sport
Betting: Blues $1.03, Force $12 (odds via PlayUp)
1. Alex Hodgman, 2. Kurt Eklund, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5. Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 6. Tom Robinson, 7. Dalton Papalii, 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 9. Finlay Christie, 10. Otere Black, 11. Mark Telea, 12. TJ Faiane, 13. Reiko Ioane, 14. Bryce Heem, 15. Zarn Sullivan
Reserves: 16. Ray Niuia, 17. Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18. Marcel Renata, 19. Josh Goodhue, 20. Akira Ioane, 21. Jonathan Ruru, 22. Harry Plummer, 23. AJ Lam
1. Tom Robertson, 2. Feleti Kaitu’u, 3. Santiago Medrano, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Sitaleki Timani, 5. Fergus Lee-Warner, 6. Fergus Lee-Warner, 7. Kane Koteka, 8. Ollie Callan, 9. Ian Prior (c), 10. Jake McIntyre, 11. Jordan Olowofela, 12. Kyle Godwin, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Richard Kahui, 15. Jake Strachan
Reserves: 16. Andrew Ready, 17. Angus Wagner, 18. Greg Holmes, 19. Ryan McCauley, 20. Brynard Stander, 21. Michael McDonald, 22. Domingo Miotti, 23. Rob Kearney