Force looking to halt second half woes

Super Rugby
Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

Two second-half capitulations have made the Western Force's New Zealand tour a difficult one but backrower Angus Cottrell says his side wants to finish on a high.

The Force has conceded 12 second half tries in the past two weeks after matching it with the Chiefs and the Hurricanes in the early stages.

Against the reigning champion Highlanders, Cottrell said his side will be looking for a competitive effort for more than just 60 minutes.

“The boys are still sticking to the job at hand and trying to get that 80-minute performance out,” he said.

“Obviously we've had a couple of big losses against good sides and the Highlanders are going to be a massive task for us.”

The Highlanders are one of the in-form teams of the competition at the moment and are looking to stretch their winning streak to five matches, when they host the Force.

The Force have had the wood over the Highlanders in recent years, winning six of the last seven against the New Zealand side including four of the last five in Dunedin.

Cottrell said the Force would need to shut down the Highlanders' attacking game plan to take control of the game.

“They're a cracking side and like to throw the ball around,” he said.

“We need to stop their momentum, get them to play the way we want them to play."

While their focus might be on shut down efforts, Cottrell said they also needed to make their attacking possession count.

“We want to stick with what we've been training and Foles has encouraged us to do that and not go away from what we know,” Cottrell said.

“I think the biggest thing for us with our attacking shape is minimising that turnover ball.

"We’ve had the ball in good positions of the field and coughed it up or lost possession in vital parts and the Chiefs and Hurricanes have really pounced on that."

In a major boost for the Force, Wallaby backrower Ben McCalman returns to the starting side along with speedster Luke Morahan.

Cottrell said McCalman's influence was invaluable on the group.

“Doggy (McCalman) is a great bloke to have around,” he said.

“He's a tough competitor and he's probably one of the toughest in the competition.

“It's invaluable to have him back and every time we have him out there with us he leads from the front, and everyone seems to follow."

The Force take on the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday at 5:30pm AEDT LIVE on FOX SPORTS.

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