Confident Force ready for Chiefs battle
March 16, 2014
The Force took their chances and held on for a win over the Highlanders
It's still early days, but this Super Rugby season is shaping as a special year for the Western Force. The Force secured consecutive bonus point victories for the first time in their history on Saturday night when they held on for a 31-29 triumph over the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The Perth-based franchise now have the chance to notch three wins on the trot for the first time since 2007 when they host the all-conquering Chiefs on Saturday night.
The Force were hot favourites to claim the wooden spoon after opening their season with lacklustre losses to the Waratahs and Brumbies. But impressive wins over the Rebels and Highlanders have lifted them into equal sixth spot on the table.
Star forward Ben McCalman faces a nervous wait after he was cited for his spear tackle on Highlanders prop Kane Hames. But other than that it's good news for the Force, who are brimming with confidence after scoring eight tries in the past two weeks.
The Force have finished 13th, 14th, 12th and 13th in the past four years, and have never won more than seven games in a season. But finally there is light at the end of the tunnel, with the hard work under coach Michael Foley starting to pay dividends.
"These guys have worked very hard for the past 16 months, and I think there's a little bit of validation there," Foley said. "The guys who have been at the club for a long time haven't had the good fortune of getting back-to-back bonus point wins before.
"It gives them a lot of belief. It doesn't mean we'll always get it right. But it does prove that all the hard work and the effort they put in for each other is worthwhile."
They say the harder you work, the luckier you get. That was definitely the case on Saturday night, with the Force holding on for a two-point win after Highlanders fly-half Hayden Parker missed his conversion on the full-time siren.
The Force fought tooth and nail to after being reduced to 13 men for the final eight minutes, and they deserved victory after producing yet another impressive attacking display.
Foley praised his team's fighting spirit, and urged them to put in another big effort on Saturday night against the Chiefs, who have won the past two Super titles.
"The thirst for knowledge has seen coaches break away from the confines of rugby and look to America." Tom Hamilton on the two-way learning process
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside