Western Force 32, Rebels 7

imagesThe struggling Western Force, stuck at the foot of the competition table, will look to mark Matt Hodgson’s 100th Super Rugby match with their first win of the season.

The Western Australian captain becomes the first player to represent the franchise in 100 tournament matches, having begun his career in the Force’s first Super Rugby match against the Brumbies in 2006.

Force coach Michael Foley says his team is focused on a performance worthy of such an achievement.

“Saturday is significant and fitting milestone for Matt and his family,” he said.

“The commitment Matt has made to the franchise over its relatively brief history has earnt him the respect of every member of the Force family.

“Our focus is to be stronger from the start of the match.

“While we’ve identified the things that are costing us, the challenge is to ensure we nail those areas for Matt and our supporters on Saturday”

The Force will be looking to bounce back following last weekend’s loss to the Brumbies and have promoted flyhalf Sias Ebersohn, fullback Jayden Hayward, prop Pek Cowan and lock Wilhelm Steenkamp to the starting line-up.

Towering lock Adam Coleman and outside back Marcel Brache are also in line to make their Super Rugby debuts for the Western Force off the bench.

Matches between the two sides have always been close, with a converted try the greatest margin in their previous six encounters – with three decided by a solitary point.

The Rebels will be looking to continue their strong start to the season, following last weekend’s 35-14 win over the Cheetahs in Melbourne.

The Rebels have made six changes to their starting XV – with Paul Aloe-Emile and Max Lahiff helping form a new front row; Cadeyrn Neville at lock; Colby Faingaa at openside flank; while flyhalf Angus Roberts and winger Tom Kingston are the new faces in the backline.

The Rebels teams boasts three former Force players in Luke Jones, Mitch Inman and Paul Alo-Emile, while Heath Tessmann will line up against his former Melbourne teammates.

Rebels coach Tony McGahan said they haven’t spoken about the Rebels strong win-loss ratio against the Force.

“What we have spoken about is that every game that has been played in the history of the franchise has been decided by no more than seven points, and that is what we are concerned with,” McGahan said.

“We are not at a stage where we worry too much about the opposition, we’ve got a lot of respect for what they can do and what they have done in the past, but really it’s about us backing each other up and us protecting each other.

“We’ve got enough things to learn and do better at ourselves, and we’re not really interested in the Force’s motivation in regards to where they are at, and where they need to get to.

“We know that they are a really resilient group, with the ability to grind out results.”

Recent results:
2013: Rebels won 30-23, Perth
2013: Rebels won 30-23, Melbourne
2012: Rebels won 32-31, Perth
2012: Rebels won 30-29, Melbourne
2011: Force won 27-24, Melbourne
2011: Rebels won 26-25, Perth

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Junior Rasolea, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacement: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Marcel Brache.

Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Luke Jones, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Lachlan Mitchell.

Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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