Force search for last surge




If the Force garner the full house of points against the Blues on Friday, and win by 42 points, then they stand a chance of gaining entrance to the play-offs.

Permutations aside, they need to end the season with a bang.

To that end, coach John Mitchell has injected some freshness into his side, making three changes and a further positional switch.

Junior Pelesasa will earn his 50th Super rugby cap on Friday – he returns to the starting line-up wearing 12, with Matt Giteau shifting back to flyhalf and James Hilgendorf switching to the bench.

In other changes, Luke Doherty and David Pocock come into the side at blindside and openside flanker, respectively, while Richard Brown and Matt Hodgson move to the bench.

Hodgson is bracketed with David Pusey, who has a leg strain and whose selection will be determined later in the week.

Friday’s match, the final round of the regular season, will be winger Digby Ioane’s last in the ocean blue at Subiaco Oval, having decided to further his career with the Reds.

It will also be the final time that local fans will see scrumhalf Chris O’Young, who is leaving the Force to play in Glasgow.

Force coach John Mitchell said the Blues had been the competition leader for most of the season, and would be bolstered by the return of Luke McAlister.

“Troy Flavell has also had an outstanding season, as has Isaia Toeava and of course Dougie Howlett is Super rugby’s most prolific try scorer of all time, so they are going to be a handful,” he said.

“Parts of our performance against the Cheetahs were outstanding but against a team like Blues we will need to sustain the pressure for longer periods of play.”

Mitchell said that, as with the previous week, the Force had no choice but to win and play well.

“We come in to Friday’s game with a slim opportunity. We must make the most of it and finish the regular season at home with a performance we can be proud of. Our wonderful supporters deserve as much.”

Force: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Scott Staniforth, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Junior Pelesasa, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Matt Henjak, 8 Scott Fava, 7 David Pocock, 6 Luke Doherty, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Rudi Vedelago, 3 Troy Takiari, 2 Tai McIsaac, 1 Gareth Hardy
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes 17 AJ Whalley 18 David Pusey/Matt Hodgson 19 Richard Brown 20 Chris O’Young 21 James Hilgendorf 22 Haig Sare

Date: Friday 4 May
Venue: Subiaco Oval, Perth.
Kick-off: 19.05 (11.05 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Touch judges: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa), James Leckie (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)
Assessor: Ian Scotney, Tony Dunlop


365 Digital

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