Crucial Game for The Force

May 24, 2013 at 9:51 am Leave a comment

It will be the battle of the potential wooden spooners in Super Rugby on Saturday night at NIB Stadium when the Emirates Western Force take on the Highlanders from New Zealand. The Highlanders have had a horror season and will be looking for a much needed win as they make their way home after their trip to the Republic. The Force will be looking for a performance that lasts 80 minutes to show their loyal supporters they can deliver a win.

The Force have had some impressive performances with wins over the Crusaders and the Reds and going down to the reigning Champions the Chiefs by a point, but too often they have thrown games away through their own ill discipline, or not treasuring possession. Last week was a case in point, leading at half time they gave away two needless penalties after the re-start and fell behind to the Sharks, and then the backs continually kicked away possession that the forwards had worked hard to win.

It has been a frustrating season for Force fans as the team shows glimpses of what is possible, many claim that the team lacks consistency. Others claim they lack concentration for the full 80 minutes. The truth lies somewhere in between.

The Force have three games left in this year’s Super Rugby season and all the games are at home. It is vital that they manage to string some wins together in order to placate their corporate sponsors and their loyal fans. What is worrying are rumours that Emirates will no longer continue their naming rights sponsorship, as well as another key sponsor withdrawing; however that we believe is because of a change of ownership in the company and nothing to do with the Force’s form. Some sponsors are already stating that they are finding it increasingly difficult to fill their boxes on match days, the reason being the Perth public tend to only want to watch winning sides. This is clear in all codes of football as well as other sports.

So how far away are the Force from turning that corner? If one looks at their results overall it would appear not that far. Apart from the 41-7 thrashing from the Brumbies no other team has run over the top of the side. If we take their two wins out of the equation, they have played eleven other games. Out of those eleven games they have lost six, more than half of those games by seven points or less. That is one converted try. Yes, it is still a loss, but the margin of the loss would tend to indicate they are not too far away from turning these losses into victories. They probably require a few new recruits in the off season to tip these games in their favour, in particular a couple of backs who are capable of turning a game, they do not need to be big name players, just players capable of breaking the line on a regular basis.

For the last three games though, they must learn to treasure possession, be patient, and limit where they infringe on the park. When Jake White took over the Springboks he looked at the number of kickable penalties the side conceded in a game, and over the ensuing years worked on reducing this. He succeeded and the result was the Springboks winning their second World Cup. Managing that discipline in the heat of battle can have a dramatic effect on a teams performances.

The Force are not far from victory, but the game against the Highlanders is a crucial game, and one that they must win.


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