Injury-hit Force still holding onto finals hopes

Super Rugby
by AAP

They've been decimated by injuries and are in grave danger of being axed from Super Rugby altogether, but the Western Force are still daring to dream of snaring an unlikely finals berth this season.

The Force sit 16th overall with a 2-6 record.

However, amazingly, they are still an outside chance of qualifying for the finals given the inept display by Australian sides this year.

The winner of the Australian conference will be guaranteed a finals berth, with the Brumbies (3-6) occupying that position at the moment.

But they are just nine points ahead of the Force, who have a game in hand.

The Force face a make-or-break two-game tour against the Sharks (Durban) and Jaguares (Buenos Aires) before playing four of their final five games at home.

Dane Haylett-Petty was impressive in his return to the Force team. Photo: Getty ImagesHindering the Force is a worrying injury toll that has claimed the likes of captain Ben McCalman (shoulder), Dane Haylett-Petty (hamstring), Ryan Louwrens (knee), Chance Peni (groin). Ben Daley (knee), and Luke Morahan (fractured cheekbone) among others.

Despite the casualty list, flyhalf Jono Lance is confident the team can still launch a spirited charge at a finals berth.

"The Australian conference is very tight. No one has run away with it at the moment," Lance said.

"It's definitely there for the taking and once you make the finals, then it's a whole new story.

"It's almost a new season because everyone starts from scratch.

"So it's definitely a goal of ours and we feel optimistic that if we can play the right footy, we can end up there."

The Force have been competitive in almost every game this year, with five of their six losses coming by nine points or less.

"We lost two close games at home the last two weeks," Lance said.

"And because of that, we're in a position where we need to get at least one win on this two-week tour."

Wallabies lock Adam Coleman is a chance to return from a calf injury for Saturday's clash with the Sharks in Durban.

Lance said it had been nice for the players to get away from Perth, while the saga surrounding which Australian team will be axed from the competition continues to drag on.

Either the Rebels or the Force will be axed ahead of next season, but the situation has become complicated with both franchises threatening the ARU with legal action.

The Force take on the Sharks on Saturday night, kicking off at 11:05pm AEST, live on FOX SPORTS.