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The Force host the Waratahs Saturday evening at HBF Park, Perth. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:45 pm (AEST).
Against the odds, the Force beat the Rebels last week by one point. This was their second win of the season. They defeated the Waratahs by four points last month. The Waratahs will be confident today because of their last good performance a fortnight ago against the Brumbies. They lost by a mere two points.
The Force showed significant potential this season, with the only blemish being a 28 points loss against the Brumbies. However, their main challenge is to score points, having breached 20 points only once.
The Waratahs are at a crossroads, having lost their coach mid-season. However, the result has been positive, almost winning against the Canberrans in the first match without Rob Penney. As such, it is unclear what they will deliver this week.
Losing Will Harrison at flyhalf this week would normally be a major disruptor for New South Wales. His replacement is one his best friends, Ben Donaldson, who played with Harrison since they were young boys. Donaldson does not have Harrison’s zip but is a good triple-threat playmaker who also can play strong and square. This is something missing from the Waratahs, especially the forwards.
The Force welcome Gregs Holmes and Tim Anstee back in the starting pack. But their attack is still unsettled and their midfield defence needs improvement. But it probably would not matter so much today, considering their opponents’ lack of development in attack.
The scrumhalf tussle between Tomas Cubelli and Jake Gordon will be interesting. You should observe the way these older hands try to maneuver their teammates’ behaviour and squeeze higher performance. Lachie Swinton is also back. Whilst his opposite number is Anstee, Swinston’s natural opponent is Bernard Stander.
Expect some fireworks. Amy Perrett, who is a welcomed addition as a regular referee, will manage two teams who will play it tough and rough. The bookies and The Roar tipsters are tipping a Force win, which is hard to argue against. I really do not have a prediction considering the unpredictable nature of the Waratahs. I think it will be close, assuming the Waratahs pack does not capitulate.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:45 pm (AEST).
Kick-off: 7:45pm (AEST)
Venue: HBF Park, Perth
Live stream: Nine, Stan Sport
Betting: Force $1.36, Waratahs $3.15 (odds via PlayUp)
1 Tom Robertson, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 3 Santiago Medrano, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 6 Tim Anstee, 7 Kane Koteka, 8 Brynard Stander, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 10 Domingo Miotti, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 12 Kyle Godwin (c), 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 14 Richard Kahui, 15 Jack McGregor
Reserves: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Fergus Lee-Warner, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Grason Makara, 23 Jake Strachan
1 Angus Bell, 2 Dave Porecki, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4 Hugh Sinclair, 5 Max Douglas, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 8 Will Harris, 9 Jake Gordon (c), 10 Ben Donaldson, 11 James Ramm, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 13 Izaia Perese, 14 Alex Newsome, 15 Jack Maddocks
Reserves: 16 Tom Horton, 17 Te Tera Faulkner, 18 Darcy Breen, 19 Sam Caird, 20 Jeremy Williams, 21 Charlie Gamble, 22 Jack Grant, 23 Tane Edmed