Highlanders vs Force: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

What can we take out of the Force's effort against the Highlanders?

1. Force can mix it with the best

After two of the most difficult weeks in their history, both on and off the field, the Force proved that they can mix it with the best. Taking on the defending champs, the Force broke out to a 14-0 lead early and showed that their attacking game plan is starting to come together. Michael Foley and Matt Hodgson will be proud of their efforts.

2. Grinding victory

The 2015 Super Rugby Champions were off their game against the Force making 16 handling errors throughout the 80 minutes. It didn’t stop the Kiwi side from grinding out their fifth victory of the season to sit comfortably in the top two of the highly competitive New Zealand conference.

3. Big Dog’s back

It’s been a slow start to the season for Ben McCalman following his short stint in Japan but tonight the man known as the 'Big Dog' returned to top form for the Force. McCalman received just his second start of the season after being rested in the opening two rounds. He was everywhere for the West Australian side scoring their second try of the night and making some huge hits.

4. Tough tour

It’s been a tour to forget for the Western Force who have conceded a total of 126 points over the past three weeks in New Zealand. Their second half collapses in the their opening two matches were a cause for concern for Michael Foley, but he will be pleased with his side’s 80 minute effort against the Highlanders.

5. Injuries for days

The Western Force had to battle through numerous injuries against the Highlanders with four of their forwards going down with head knocks in the second half. The Force were so desperate for replacements that hooker Nathan Charles was used in the backrow as cover! Adam Coleman, Ross Haylett-Petty, Heath Tessmann and Angus Cottrell will need to be monitored during the week ahead of their clash against the Crusaders.