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The Western Force have put together a team with some serious international experience to face the ACT Brumbies as Super Rugby AU visits Perth for this Round 1 clash. There’s no time to ease into things in this competition, so both teams know a poor performance could ruin their entire tournament. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog starting from 21:55 AEDT on Friday.
There’s been plenty of talk about the Force’s shopping spree over the summer. Wallabies Tevita Kuridrani and Tom Robertson, Pumas Santiago Medrano and Tomás Lezana and Ireland legend Rob Kearney are just some of the impressive names to join the club and these five will all start against the Brumbies.
Their pedigree is impressive, but rugby is a team game all about combinations and players clicking. Fans and pundits alike will want to see how well this new squad has gelled over the offseason and if the experienced players can add value on the pitch as well as in the marketing and merchandise stakes.
When these two teams met last week in Canberra for a trial game, the Force defended incredibly well and they will take a lot of confidence from their ability to keep the Brumbies at bay for long periods of time. They will also have seen in the match review how well they were able to attack down their own left wing – they made plenty of metres attacking down this side again and again and also scored a beautiful try down this channel. The men from WA will want to see if this area can bear fruit now that the result really matters.
For the visiting Brumbies side, there’s a high level of expectation. Last year’s champions are most people’s favourites for this year’s competition as well and it’s easy to see why when you look at the talent across the team.
It will be interesting to see how much they play the game off the scrum-half with the experienced Nic White joining the club. Whilst he’s a talented player, the Brumbies won’t want to be too predictable and allow the Force defence to settle into a good rhythm.
Joining White in the half-backs will be Noah Lolesio, who looked good when he came on in last week’s trial game. He was able to unlock the effective Force defence with several well-placed little kicks that the WA men struggled to deal with.
One great clash to look out for is in the centres where former Brumbie Kuridrani, will go up against Len Ikitau, who has taken both his spot in Canberra and his spot in the Wallabies squad. Much has been written about how Kuridrani had a poor 2020, but he’s still got bucketloads of talent both in attack and defence and with a new setting and a point to prove, this Round 1 clash against his old club would be the perfect time to make a statement.
The Force showed last week that they are going to be a very different prospect to last season. There has been a great amount of local support and excitement at Super Rugby coming back to Perth and the ground should be a noisy place for the visiting Brumbies.
However, the Brumbies will have too much firepower in key aspects of the game with their set-piece likely to dominate and give their talented half backs plenty of ball to control the game.
Brumbies by 9.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog starting from 21:55 AEDT on Friday.
Where: HBF Park, Perth
Date: Friday 19th February, 2021
Kick-off: 21:55 AEDT
Betting: Western Force 2.94, Brumbies 1.40
Robert Kearney, Byron Ralston, Tevita Kuridrani, Kyle Godwin, Marcel Brache, Jono Lance, Ian Prior (c), Brynard Stander, Kane Koteka, Tomas Lezana, Fergus Lee Warner, Jeremy Thrush, Santiago Medrano, Feleti Kaitu’u, Tom Robertson
Replacements: Andrew Ready, Angus Wagner, Greg Holmes, Ryan McCauley, Tim Anstee, Tomas Cubelli, Jake McIntyre, Richard Kahui
Tom Banks, Andy Muirhead, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Mack Hansen, Noah Lolesio, Nic White, Pete Samu, Jahrome Brown, Rob Valetini, Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper
Replacements: Connal McInerney, Harry Lloyd, Tom Ross, Nick Frost, Tom Cusack, Ryan Lonergan, Reesjan Pasitoa, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa