Anyone can contribute to The Roar and have their work featured alongside some of Australia’s most prominent sports journalists.
A winless Western Force outfit will take on the reinvigorated NSW Waratahs at Cbus Super Stadium in Queensland on Friday night. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:05pm (AEST).
With last week’s domination of the Reds and the Western Force remaining winless, the Waratahs head into Friday night’s clash as the clear favourites. However, it may not be that simple. Last week’s upsets have set a precedent in the Super Rugby AU competition, the precedent being that no win is ever guaranteed.
The Force’s series of losses doesn’t accurately tell their story. They have proved themselves to be a formidable underdog, pressuring their opponents right to the end, although making a habit of squandering their winning opportunities. The fact that it is do or die for the Force makes them even more dangerous as a loss would spell the end of their finals aspirations.
Tim Sampson has made four inclusions for the match. Ian Prior returns to the starting side after missing the previous two games due to injury, replacing Nick Frisby. Jake Strachan starts at fullback and Jack McGregor moves to the bench. In the forwards, Pek Cowan will take over from Chris Heiberg who performed well against the Rebels.
Despite Frisby’s flashes of brilliance, Prior is a tremendously important inclusion. He has positioned himself as an expert field-general and one of the Force’s best in the competition’s starting rounds. The Force will be needing a lean on a standout performance from their captain if they are to come away with the win.
On the other side, the Waratahs will be trying to replicate last week’s first-half annihilation of the Reds with a fast start.
Their chances are bolstered by the return of captain Rob Simmons, who was a late omission from last week’s match against the Reds. Despite a brilliant performance last week, Simmons’ return pushes Ned Hanigan to the bench. In the forwards, Harry Johnson-Holmes switches to the bench for Tetra Faulkner and Robbie Abel replaces Andrew Tuala in the reserves.
Jake Gordon and Michael Hooper will be looking to continue their scintillating form this weekend. Both had standout performances in the destruction of the Reds.
Continuing with the theme of last week I can see the Western Force jagging their first win of the competition.
Force by 7.
Venue: Cbus Super Stadum
Kick-off: 7:05pm (AEST)
TV: Fox Sports
Live stream: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Odds: Western Force $3.62, Waratahs $1.29
1. Pek Cowan, 2. Feleto Kaitu’u, 3. Kieran Longbottom, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Fergus Lee Warner, 6. Henry Stowers, 7. Kane Koteka, 8. Brynard Stander, 9. Ian Prior (c), 10. Jono Lance, 11. Brad Lacey, 12. Richard Kahui, 13. Kyle Godwin, 14. Byron Ralston, 15. Jake Strachan
Bench: 16. Andrew Ready, 17. Chris Heiberg, 18. Tom Sheminant, 19. Johan Bardoul, 20. Ollie Atkins, 21. Nick Frisby, 22. Nick Jooste, 23. Jack McGregor
1. Tom Robertson, 2. Ton Horton, 3. Te Tera Faulkner, 4. Tom Staniforth, 5. Rob Simmons (c), 6. Lachie Swinton, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Jack Dempsey, 9. Jake Gordon, 10. Will Harrison, 11. Alex Newsome, 12. Karmichael Hunt, 13. Lalakai Foketi, 14. James Ramm, 15. Jack Maddocks
Bench: 16. Robert Abel, 17. Angus Bell, 18. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 19. Ned Hanigan, 20. Hugh Sinclair, 21. Mitch Short, 22. Ben Donaldson, 23. Joey Walton