Rebels and Force battle for finals berth

Thu, 08/04/2021, 07:05 am
Melissa Woods - AAP
by Melissa Woods - AAP
Josh Kemeny takes the ball up for the Rebels | Getty Images

With one Super Rugby AU finals berth still up for grabs, long-time rivals Western Force and Melbourne aren't short on motivation for their Friday night match.

The Western Force are approaching their Super Rugby AU match against Melbourne with a finals mentality, as the two bitter rivals scrap for the third play-off berth.

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Unbeaten Queensland and the Brumbies, whose only loss has come against the Reds, effectively have two finals spots sewn up with three rounds to play.

Ahead of their Friday night clash at AAMI Park, the Rebels hold a four-point lead over the Force, who are ahead of the trailing Waratahs by the same margin.

Force coach Tim Sampson said his team recognised how important beating the Rebels was.

"It is a finals-type game - that's been discussed this week - the importance of this game with just two rounds left after this fixture," Sampson said.

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The Force have shaken up their side, naming four Argentine internationals including halves Tomas Cubelli and Domingo Miotti, while former Wallaby Kyle Godwin will make his first appearance of the year after recovering from a foot injury.

As well as taking over the captaincy Godwin will start at inside centre, while the Rebels also have a new No.12 with Olympic Sevens star Lewis Holland set for his first start.

Godwin, 28, played with Holland back in the Australian under 20s, and expected him to be a handful.

"He's been a great sevens player and he's made the transition to 15s and came off the bench last week and went really well so I'm sure they're rewarding that," Godwin said.

"He's a ball-playing centre so we definitely know the strengths that he brings so we will be sure to look to nullify that."

Melbourne skipper Matt Toomua said his team was looking to rebound from a disappointing last outing against the Reds, and also try to get some clear air on the chasing Force.

"If you get this win you all but guarantee a finals position," Toomua said.

"But probably the biggest storyline for us is to get some respect back from what we against the Reds as that was well below what we expect of ourselves.

"We're not short on motivation for this match, that's for sure."

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The Rebels will kick off round eight of Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU on Friday evening when they host the Western Force at AAMI Park kicking off at 7.45pm AEDT, LIVE on Stan Sport,click here to purchase tickets.

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