Force to warm up against Crusaders


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The Emirates Western Force will take its first steps on the quest for a first ever Super 14 semi finals appearance when they host reigning champions the Crusaders at Members Equity Stadium in a pre-season trial match on Friday 23 January.

The seven-time champions from Canterbury will make their one and only visit to Perth in 2009 for the trial match, which is also the lone pre-season fixture in WA before the Super 14 season proper kicks off on February 6.

Members Equity Stadium has proven somewhat of a fortress for the WA side, having destroyed the opposition in two previous pre-season outings at the venue, including a 39-15 win over the Reds in January and a 59-10 demolition of Samoa in 2007.

Emirates Western Force captain Nathan Sharpe said a clash with the defending champions will provide the perfect means to assess his team’s Super 14 preparation.

‘The Crusaders have been the benchmark of the Super 14 competition for a number of years and it really doesn’t matter if you’re playing them in a pre-season match or a semi final, they are still the Crusaders,’ said Sharpe.

‘It will be a good test for us before the season kicks off and it will give us the opportunity to gauge our pre-season preparation.’ he said.

Sharpe said the players and fans both enjoy the Members Equity Stadium experience.

‘The fans are certainly very close to the action at Members Equity and we’ve had strong support in our two previous trial matches there,’ he said.

‘We had almost 10,000 supporters attend the Samoa match in 2007 and it would be nice to see that number beaten with the Crusaders playing here in Perth for the one and only time in 2009.’

The match is currently scheduled for an 8pm kick off on Friday 23 January.

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