Force want home success for suffering fans

Fri, 16/04/2021, 06:28 am
Justin Chadwick - AAP
by Justin Chadwick - AAP
Western Force celebrate their Round Eight victory over the Rebels | Getty Images

The Western Force haven't won a home Super Rugby match since 2017, but the drought could be broken against the NSW Waratahs.

Western Force players are determined to give the club's long-suffering fans a rare dose of joy in Saturday night's clash with the NSW Waratahs at HBF Park.

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The Force's fans haven't experienced a home Super Rugby win since July 15, 2017 when the Perth-based franchise beat the Waratahs 40-11.

The axe fell on the Force shortly after that, and the club had to play the entire season on the east coast last year when they were invited to participate in Super Rugby AU.

The Force have played two Super games in Perth this year, resulting in losses to the Brumbies and Rebels.

Saturday's clash with the winless Waratahs represents the Force's best chance to reward their home fans, and stand-in skipper Kyle Godwin said it was a big focus of the player group.

"We have the most loyal fan base in the world, and they haven't had the opportunity of having a home game win yet," Godwin said. 

"That's big on our minds this week. We want to give back to the fans. They've been so loyal to us, and they definitely deserve that win, and we'll be playing for them tomorrow night."

Tim Anstee keeps the Western Force's finals hopes alive

The Force sit a point adrift of the third-placed Melbourne Rebels with just two rounds to play.

And with the ladder-leading Reds awaiting them in the final round, the Force can ill afford to slip up against the last-placed Waratahs.

Bonus points could well decide who ends up finishing third, and Force coach Tim Sampson said it was in the back of his mind.

"Those fine margins in a tight points table, it does come into calculations no doubt," he said. 

"I think as long as we get the four points first off, and if we're in a position to get that bonus point, then it will be of benefit no doubt. But we'll concentrate on getting that win first."

The Waratahs sprung a selection shock by naming inexperienced flyhalf Ben Donaldson to replace Will Harrison (hamstring).

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Donaldson is yet to play a Super match this year due to injury, and he has been controversially rushed into the starting line-up ahead of Tane Edmed.

Sampson knows Donaldson well, and says the 22-year-old is a "handful".

"Ben Donaldson has been around for a few years now and came through Junior Wallabies when I was part of the coaching set up there," Sampson said.

"He's quite a skillful young fellow, and has got a nice passing game. 

"He likes to take it to the line. He's courageous."

The Western Force will return to Perth and kick off round nine of Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU, taking on the Waratahs at HBF Park, the home side will look to keep their finals hopes alive once they kick off at 7.45pm AEST, LIVE on Stan Sport and simulcast on 9Gem, click here to purchase tickets.

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