Force face date with destiny against Reds

Thu, 22/04/2021, 03:57 am
Justin Chadwick - AAP
by Justin Chadwick - AAP
Western Force celebrate after a last minute win over the Waratahs. Photo: Getty Images

The Western Force will secure a historic finals berth with victory over the Queensland Reds but a loss would leave them with a nervous wait.

They hatched the history-making plan during the pre-season, and now the Western Force have the chance to fulfill it when they tackle the Queensland Reds at HBF Park on Friday night.

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The Force and Melbourne Rebels are locked in a fierce battle for third spot and a place in the Super Rugby AU play-offs.

A win over the Reds would secure the Force a finals berth for the first time in the franchise's 16-year history.

A loss would mean a nervous wait, with the Force needing the last-placed Waratahs to upset the Melbourne Rebels in Sydney on Saturday.

The Force's destiny is in their own hands, and the players are being urged to embrace the moment.

"We actually touched on it in a pre-season camp about this year, creating a bit of history within the squad," Force coach Tim Sampson said.

"We reflected on that at the start of the week. Controlling those emotions is really important now.

"We don't want to go away from focusing on what we have to do to get the win.

"When we're back in the change rooms after the job's done, that's when we'll reflect on the piece of history we've created."

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The Force have been in this position before.

In 2014, the Force went into the last round needing a win over the Brumbies to qualify for the Super Rugby finals, but they were beaten 47-25 in Canberra to narrowly miss out.

Stand-in Force skipper Kyle Godwin remembers that missed opportunity, and he's eager to come out on top this time around.

"Hopefully tomorrow night we can do it a bit differently," Godwin said.

"This is one of the most important games the Force are going to be in. 

"But we're not going to shy away from that challenge. We know there's a bit of pressure, but we're looking forward to it and hopefully we can do WA and all the fans proud.

"Of course there's going to be extra pressure, but we're well aware of that. We're super excited that hopefully we can create a bit of history for the Force."

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The unbeaten Reds have already locked up top spot and a home grand final.

But if team selection is anything to go by, they're not taking the foot off the pedal, with the Reds recalling skipper Liam Wright, enforcer Hunter Paisami, and Fijian flyer Filipo Daugunu into the starting line-up.

The Force welcome back Irish legend Rob Kearney from an adductor injury.

The Western Force will open Anzac Round when they host ladder leaders, the Queensland Reds at HBF Park in Perth on Friday 23 April, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport, click here to purchase tickets.

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