It's do-or-die for the Force on Saturday night against the Reds. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au
Force v Reds
Saturday July 5 – 7:40 PM (AEST)
If the Western Force are any chance of making the finals for the first time in the franchise’s history, then they need to win on Saturday. Since their inception in 2006, they have come close a few times, but have never made it to the big stage. This could be their year. The only thing standing in their way is the Queensland Reds , who are looking to finish the season on a high, after what can only be described as disappointing campaign.
Since their inaugural season back in 2006, the Force has been close to the bottom of the ladder almost every year. Apart from the late noughties, they have not finished higher than 12th on the ladder. 2014 has been different. They have played with skill and confidence all the way through the season. Winning five games in a row at the start of the season, which included toppling last year’s grand finalists, the Force looked like they on the verge of challenging for the Super Rugby Trophy. But it appears as though the wheels have fallen off, with the Perth team losing to both the Blues and the Crusaders in consecutive weeks. Nick "Honey Badger" Cummins is set to return on the wing after missing last week's game with a neck complaint. Coach Michael Foley has chosen a new halves pairing, going with Ian Prior and Zack Holmes. Prop Pek Cowan will become the third most capped Force player (80), when he runs out onto nib Stadium on Saturday.
It is too little too late for the Reds, but don't tell them that. A poor 2014 campaign has the Reds sitting 13th on the ladder and no chance of making the finals. Pride seems to be only thing pushing them over the line. With both Quade Cooper and Will Genia out for the rest of the season, Nick Frisby and Ben Lucas have had to fill the void at No.9 and No.10 respectively. But maybe it was the change the Reds needed, beating both the Rebels and the Highlanders in sensational style. Coach Richard Graham has had to make a few changes to the team which trounced the Rebels last week. Samu Kerevi will make his run-on debut, replacing Anthony Fainga’a (calf) in the centres. Ben Daley comes off the pine to replace James Slipper at No.1, who shifts to tighthead prop to cover for Greg Holmes (knee). Lachie Turner starts on the wing for Dominic Shipperley (ankle).
The Force has everything to lose in this game. A loss here could see them miss out on the finals once again. If they perform like they did against Stormers a month ago, they may just get up in this one. But the Reds will play like a team with nothing to lose because, well, they don’t.
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