The Force have named an unchanged side for their clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin. Coach Michael Foley has kept faith with the starting fiteen that roundly trounced the Rebels last weekend. The Force will be hopeful of winning back to back matches for the first time since 2011 especially as they have not been defeated by this particular side since 2008.
The Highlanders still have to make do without talismanic lock, Brad Thorn with young Joe Wheeler standing in. They will be highly motivated for this match also, as it was learned this week that popular back, Baxton Popoalii has had to retire due to health reasons. Expect a seriously fired up side to take to the field on Saturday.
The Force will look to young guns Kyle Goodwin and Junior Rasolea to take the game to the Highlanders, and Matt Hodgson’s performance will be crucial in slowing the Highlanders forward momentum.
The players to watch for the Highlanders will be All-Blacks, the Smiths, Aaron and Ben and if the Force can curtail these players, it will ensure an easier afternoon for the men from the West.
The teams are as follows:
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Kurt Baker, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Shane Christie, 6 John Hardie, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 Craig Millar, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Phil Burleigh.
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Junior Rasolea, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Marcel Brache.
Prediction: After an initial onslaught from the hyper-aggresive Highlanders, the Force should be able to repeat last weeks performance and come away with a win in the last twenty minutes
Over and out,