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The Western Force host the Brumbies on Saturday evening at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:15pm (AEST).
The Force lost a close match against the Reds last week, with a similar result the previous round against the Waratahs. Coach Tim Sampson will be uneasy about this. He had grown accustomed to winning in the years of the Global Rapid Rugby (GRR). Before that he was head coach of NRC’s Canberra Vikings where he enjoyed a healthy win ratio.
His team, captained by Kiwi lock Jeremy Thrush, faces off against Dan McKellar’s Brumbies. Both coaches are Queenslanders. Both have coached the Tuggeranong Vikings. Both are accustomed to winning.
While the Force surprised many with their strong and enterprising game, the Brumbies have not impressed. Last week, their back rowers played below expectations. Their locks and lineout were a disaster. The scrum was weak. Their backs’ attack was easily snuffed. The Force will test all these. Today will be a test of McKellar’s and Allan Alaalatoa’s leadership abilities.
The Force’s midfield defence held up fairly well in the past games. But I suspect that the Brumbies’ back rowers, along with Tevita Kuridrani and Irae Simone, plan to crack through the plains between and around Marcel Brache and Henry Taefu.
Bayley Kuenzle will helm the Brumbies’ attack for the first time. It probably means the Brumbies will keep things simple: win gain line, lineouts, scrums and territory. The Force, with ex-Red Nick Frisby and Jono Lance spearheading operations with hard-nosed forwards, vary the attack to catch the Brumbies off guard.
It may work some of the time, but not all the time. The Brumbies’ defence is organised well. To have a chance against the Canberrans, the Force’s tight five needs to keep the pill away from their own half.
Kick-off: 7:15pm (AEST)
Venue: Leichhardt Oval
TV: Fox Sports
Live stream: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
1. Angus Wagner, 2. Feleti Kaitu’u, 3. Kieran Longbottom, 4. Jeremy Thrush (c), 5. Fergus Lee-Warner, 6. Henry Stowers, 7. Tevin Ferris, 8. Brynard Stander, 9. Nick Frisby, 10. Jono Lance, 11. Brad Lacey, 12. Henry Taefu, 13. Marcel Brache, 14. Byron Ralston, 15. Jack McGregor.
Bench: 16. Andrew Ready, 17. Chris Heiberg, 18. Tom Sheminant, 19. Ollie Atkins, 20. Ollie Callan, 21. Jacob Abel, 22. Richard Kahui, 23. Kyle Godwin.
1. Scott Sio, 2. Folau Fainga’a, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Murray Douglas, 5. Nick Frost, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Will Miller, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Bayley Kuenzle, 11. Tom Wright, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Solomone Kata, 15. Tom Banks.
Bench: 16. Connal McInerney, 17. Harry Lloyd, 18. James Slipper, 19. Ben Hyne, 20. Lachlan McCaffrey, 21. Issak Fines, 22. Mack Hansen, 23. Andy Muirhead.